Retail employment falls in first quarter

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Total hours in the retail industry were down 3.2 per cent in the first financial quarter according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Mass “structural change” across the industry was cited as the reason behind the continued reduction in hours, with the total number of people employed by the retail industry also dropping 2.5 per cent.

The BRC’s retail employment monitor found the majority of retailers reported a reduction in both hours and employment, with growth in store sales dropping 3 per cent and store numbers falling by 2.3 per cent.

Despite the results, 75 per cent of respondents said they intended to keep staff levels the same, 12.5 per cent said they would be increasing and 12.5 per cent said they would reduce staff levels compared to 14 per cent a year ago.

“Our latest employment figures show how the retail industry is going through a continued period of significant transition,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said this morning.

“The expected further rises in business rates and employment costs are contributing to the pressure on retailers to close stores and reduce job numbers further.

“Despite this, the future for retail is a positive one. Retailers are investing in technology and innovation which are transforming the retail experience for customers, and the industry has a vision for better retail jobs in the future that will improve productivity and provide quality employment opportunities for people across the UK,” she added.

Dickinson added that policy makers within the government could also “play their part” in helping retailers by reforming the controversial business rates system.

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