The number of retail jobs in the UK during the second quarter of 2011 fell 0.4 per cent year-on-year, according to the new research published today.
Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor shows that there were 3,100 fewer full-time jobs in the industry in Q2 despite the number of retail outlets growing 4.5 per cent on the same period in 2010.
Recent Confederation of British Industry findings indicate that there is a marked difference in retail sales between the food and homewares sectors, with the latter struggling for business, and this has been reflected in the employment situation across the UK.
While food specialists continued to add to their workforce during the period, non-food retailers saw both their part-time and full-time staff work fewer hours.
Stephen Robertson, BRC Director General, said: “Most retailers continue to hold steady and almost one in five still expects to increase jobs, but a growing number are having to limit hours and reduce staff - leaving overall retail employment down on a year ago.
“The split reflects the very different fortunes of retailers selling food - a must-have for customers - and those servicing discretionary and big ticket spending.”
Q2 was a particularly tough three months for retailers in the UK with a number of businesses collapsing, including home & DIY specialist Focus DIY and department store chain TJ Hughes.
While many of the jobs at Focus have been secured thanks to the acquisition of most of its stores by Kingfisher, Wickes and B&M Bargains, uncertainty remains regarding the future of TJ Hughes, and staff at the company’s Liverpool distribution centre were told last week that the site was closing and redundancies would be made.
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, commented: “Retailers are still weathering a significant storm and, while their confidence in terms of growth may have been tempered, the downward trend in redundancy figures shows a resilience and commitment to make it out the other side.
“Despite pressures on consumer spending, it is positive to see that there is flexibility in the retail workforce and, although fewer jobs are being created, they are being held onto wherever possible.”