Retail workers are losing their jobs

New research shows

The equivalent number of full time jobs (FTE) in retail fell by 3.3 per cent compared with the same quarter a year ago, according to the British Retail Consortium. Reductions in hours worked on both full-time and part-time contracts contributed.

All three months of the quarter reported a decline in FTE employment, with April’s decline the steepest of the three months but slower than the previous two months.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents to the survey reported a reduction in hours in this quarter compared to last year

A total of 15 per cent of respondents are intending to decrease employment levels in the coming quarter, compared to 0 per cent in Q2 2016.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said: 

“The second quarter of 2017 saw employment in retail fall as the tide of change continues to sweep through the industry. Technology, which is both transforming the way we shop and providing increasing opportunities for automation in retail, combined with a difficult market environment and policies that have increased the cost of employing people, such as the National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy, are driving the industry towards fewer but more productive jobs.

“The pace of consolidation in the retail workforce has slowed this quarter compared to last. However, there are further reductions to come. The transformation of the industry is still in progress and this quarters’ data show that more retailers are intending to reduce their workforce in the coming months than at the same point last year. 

“As ever, there are some retailers who are thriving and growing their workforce, although they are in the minority. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to our survey saw employees work fewer hours in Q2 this year, compared to last, with reductions particularly acute amongst non-food retailers. 

“With consumers seeing inflation squeezing their spending power, the challenges facing retailers will only increase in coming months; reinforcing the pressure on retailers to rethink and restructure their workforce.”

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