// 57,000 jobs lost in the last year
// Store growth was at its lowest since the fourth quarter of 2016
A total of 57,000 retail jobs have been lost in the last year, representing the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline.
Despite this, the 1.8 per cent decline in the fourth quarter of 2019 came at a lower rate compared to the 2.8 per cent fall during the same period in 2018, according to the BRC Retail Employment Monitor.
Store growth for the period was also at its lowest since the fourth quarter of 2016, merely rising by 0.2 per cent, below the 2018 comparable of 2.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, overall full-time retail employment dropped by three per cent, while part-time jobs declined by 1.2 per cent.
The BRC also noted that employment in the fourth quarter is higher than other quarters due to “the seasonal nature of retail”.
Moreover, 38 per cent of retailers said they plan on hiring fewer employees in the coming quarter, slightly above 29 per cent the previous year, while eight per cent of retailers plan to increase staff in the coming quarter – a drop against the 14 per cent in 2018.
“Following figures showing 2019 was the worst year on record for retail sales growth, it comes as no surprise that retail shed the equivalent of 57,000 jobs compared to Q4 last year,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“There were many challenges in 2019: businesses had to contend with the repeated risk of no deal Brexit, a general election and the ongoing transformation of the industry, leading to weak consumer demand.
“As a result, employment has suffered in retail, the UK’s largest private sector employer.
“This matters – retail offers many people their first job, a range of flexible working options, and huge opportunities for progression.
“Retailers may be investing heavily in their workers, through training and apprenticeships, but more could be done.
“The current inflexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy system means that much essential training is not covered, limiting the opportunities for many working in the industry.
“Moreover, it is worrying that the government is standing by while tens of thousands of jobs are being lost.
“If the same was true in manufacturing or aviation, one can be sure that the government would act.”