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Retail employment drops by 85,000

UK retail employment fell by 85,000 jobs between the third quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of 2019, new data has shown.

In the third quarter of 2019, the total number of retail employees fell by 2.8% year on year, the most recent British Retail Consortium retail employment monitor indicates. This marks the 15th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in the retail industry. 

This decline is in contrast to the UK labour market as a whole, which reached 75.9% employment rate over the three over the three months to August 2019. 

A total of 62% of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the coming quarter. However, this seasonal-pick up is a temporary measure to cope with the increased demand over the peak trading period. Of those surveyed, none expressed plans to reduce employment levels, compared with 21% last year. 

The BRC expects long-term employment to continue to decline as a result of the combined effect of ongoing structural change, lower consumer spending and fierce competition within the industry.

The chief executive of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, said: ”Weak consumer demand and Brexit uncertainty continue to put pressure on retailers already focused on delivering the transformation taking place in the industry. While MPs rail against job losses in manufacturing, their response to larger losses in retail has remained muted.

“The government should enact policies that enable retailers to invest more in the millions of people who choose to build their careers in retail. In order to promote innovation, training and productivity, government must reform both the broken business rates system and the inflexibilities of the apprenticeship levy. This will allow retailers to focus on enhancing their digital and physical offerings for customers, support the development of employees and ensure high streets remain diverse and exciting places for everyone.”

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