80% of back-end retail jobs will be lost to automation

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Automation

Eighty per cent of retail jobs not involving direct customer interaction will be lost to robots, according to a new report.

The report, produced by Oxford University’s Martin School alongside Citi, revealed that in the UK more retail jobs are at risk than any other – estimated to top around 2 million.

Across industries the number of jobs threatened by automation in the UK is 10.4 million.

Only one fifth of retail jobs in areas like logistics, transport and warehousing are not at risk of being replaced, with nearly two thirds of sales jobs also under threat.

READ MORE: 69% of retail staff see reduction in hours

The report goes on to warn that automation will lead to an increased demand for warehouse space as retailers move online, adding that in London around 65 per cent of available industrial space is currently spent on residential housing.

According to one example in the US, automation is estimated to make warehouse picking work up to six times more productive.

“Retail is one industry in which employment is likely to vanish,” Martin School’s Carl Benedikt Frey said.

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