- Structural change is said to be behind the 2.4% fall in year-on-year employment
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New figures released from the British retail Consortium show that year-on-year total employment fell by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2019, said to be the equivalent of 74,400 jobs. This is a bigger decline than the final quarter of 2018, which saw a 2.2% fall.
The figures are said to be the result of structural change in the retail industry, triggered by the advent of online sales and other technologies.
According to the BRC 17% of retailers have indicated plans to reduce staff numbers in the coming quarter above the comparable figure of 13% last year, and 67% seek to keep their staff numbers unchanged (down from 75% last year).
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC said, “Yet again, the number of retail jobs fell during the first quarter of this year, with a 2.4% year-on-year fall in employees; this would be equivalent to losing 74,400 people across the retail industry. While the number of stores rose, this was mainly driven by an increase in small format stores, with many larger stores closing—resulting in a net job loss. And more jobs are likely to disappear unless there is a shift in Government policies.
“Retail is undergoing a period of unprecedented change in response to new technologies and changing consumer behaviour. The investment required to successfully navigate this transformation is being held back by the rising cost of public policy. Over three million people rely directly on the retail sector for jobs, with many more working throughout the supply chain. Yet spiralling business costs pose a grave threat to these jobs – as recent administrations, CVAs, and store closures show.”