“Substantial declines” in retail job vacancies

// Permanent Retail Staff Vacancies Index rose from 20.4 in June to 29.4 in July
// The index for temporary retail staff grew from 31.1 in June to 35 in July

Last month saw “substantial declines” in job vacancies for both permanent and short-term retail workers, a new report has shown.

According to the latest Report on Jobs from KPMG and REC, the retail sector is one of the worst performers for job opportunities as demand for new staff continued to fall throughout July.

The Permanent Retail Staff Vacancies Index rose from 20.4 in June to 29.4 in July, pointing to a slower, but still severe, fall in demand for permanent staff in the retail industry.


The report also showed that the rate of reduction was the least marked since February, but nevertheless the strongest seen across all 10 monitored job categories.

The index for temporary retail vacancies also worsened, from 31.1 in June to 35 in July, signalling another substantial drop in demand for short-term retail staff – albeit one that was the slowest for five months.

Similar to the index for permanent vacancies, the Report on Jobs suggested that the rate of reduction among temporary jobs was the most marked across all 10 monitored sectors.

“Hiring activity in retail has been watched very closely in recent months, not least because it’s such a significant UK employer or because the industry plays such a vital role in the health of the country’s economy,” KPMG head of retail Paul Martin said.

“On one hand, retailers are having to ensure they have the people power needed to keep up with consumer demand – especially in essential categories like grocery or logistics.

“On the flip-side, they need to remain nimble and cost efficient. It’s tricky balance to get right, and no retailer can approach it the same way.

“As the recent wave of casualties and job losses makes all too clear, retail job opportunities haven’t fared well in the face of the pandemic.

“While these latest figures suggest that the fall in permanent and temporary jobs is thankfully easing off, the industry is still one of the worst performers where job opportunities are concerned.

“And, with the furlough scheme starting to unwind, that situation could get much worse before it gets better.”

He added: “Recruitment needs for the sector are changing. Head offices must ensure they have the right talent to see them through this pandemic – and digital capabilities will be key.

“While on shop floors, staff need to be on hand to avoid impeding customer experience whilst supporting in-store social distancing and hygiene measures.

“Essential retailers such as grocers and online players are arguably in a better position to ensure they have the right people power, having performed strongly in recent months.

“Having said that, non-essential retailers are playing catch-up and can’t afford to let a lack of people power impede their recovery.”

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