The online revolution has squeezed another 62,000 jobs out of the UK retail sector last year, according to new research.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said employment in UK retail dropped by 62,000 last year, with stores and outlets experiencing a 2.2 per cent drop in headcount – more than any other industry group.
The figures have been partly blamed on the collapse of BHS, which led to 11,000 job losses
Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim said an increasing focus on digital operations, self-service tills and online shopping are other reasons for the fall in retail employees.
“High street retailers‘ real growth area is online, so they are looking at whether they need so many stores and in many cases they are cutting back,” Lim told The Telegraph.
“Retailers are also having to adapt to consumers‘ growing expectations of convenience, which has meant they have had to switch investment from stores to their online operations to cope with changing shopping habits.”
“A lot of retailers have stripped out so much from their operating cost base – with rises like the National Living Wage and the pinch in labour costs, they have to rationalise, cutting back on the number of staff and introducing new technology.
“As the cost of operating a retail business continues to rise, they will look at implementing other technological innovations to strip back costs even further.”
Despite this, The Telegraph reported that Britain remains in an employment boom with a record number of people in work across all industries and the lowest unemployment rate for 42 years.
Retail is one of the UK’s biggest industries, with almost 2.9 million people currently employed.