The number of full time jobs in retail in the UK fell 0.2% in the last three months of 2015 compared to the year before, while the number of shops dropped 0.3%, according to the BRC.
Research by the British Retail Consortium found that store numbers fell for the first time in two years with both food and non-food retailers contributing to the overall decrease.
Like-for-like employees in non-food retail fell for the first time since July 2014.
BRC chief cxecutive, Helen Dickinson said: “The outlook for the retail labour market remains uncertain in the short-term at least. Following a relatively buoyant consumer environment last year, 2016 is set to be tough for the retail labour market. Government policies, that come into effect this year, will add as much as £14 billion to the retail wages, training and rates bill over the next four years, and in doing so are likely to constrain any possibility of strong jobs growth in the industry. But with the Chancellor’s review of business rates reporting in March, there is an opportunity to deliver fundamental reform of rates and instil more confidence in retailers for the future.”
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, said: “The real tell-tale figures in this report are that retailers’ employment intentions for the next three months are more pessimistic than for the same period last year. This reflects a variety of challenges facing the sector but, in our view, the most likely challenges are the impending implementation of the National Living Wage in April and concerns over the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy being introduced in April 2017.”