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Retailers scale back on seasonal staff as peak trading patterns shift

The number of people in full-time equivalent retail jobs fell by 3% in the three months ended 31 December 2016 compared to the same period the year before, as retailers scaled back seasonal overtime to adjust to structural trends.

The decline was broadly in line with the fall in the previous quarter, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Employment Monitor.

The shift was down to food retailers rather than fashion, as the number of full-time equivalent hours at food retailers fell sharply.

The number of overall outlets rose by 1.5% year on year due to an increase in non-food retail stores.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said seasonal overtime was scaled back much more than in previous years, as Boxing Day Sales became less significant compared to pre-Christmas spend and Black Friday.

“We also saw some retailers reduce temporary seasonal staffing levels earlier than in previous years,” she said.

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