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New report reveals concerns for the 2016 retail labour market

Friday January 29th 2016

The equivalent number of full-time jobs in the retail sector edged down 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year.

The figures released by the British Retail Consortium and Bond Dickinson in their Retail Employment Monitor show there was also a 0.3% fall in the number of outlets which was the first decline in the number of stores since the fourth quarter of 2012.

The decline in the number full-time employees in non-food retail was the first drop since July 2014.

On a rolling three month basis, food retailers saw growth in the equivalent number of employees for the second consecutive period.

BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: “Today’s figures suggest that the outlook for the retail labour market remains uncertain in the short-term at least. While the number of full-time jobs in the fourth quarter of 2015 fell marginally when compared with the same period last year, we also saw a small decline in the number of outlets, with both food and non-food retailers closing stores.

“The picture was further muddied with the number of full-time equivalent employees in the food sector rising for the second consecutive quarter while the latest data showed a fall in non-food, the first time since July 2014.”

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, said the report suggested that retailers’ employment intentions for the next three months are more pessimistic than for the same period last year.

She added: “This reflects a variety of challenges facing the sector but, in our view, the most likely challenges are the impending implementation of the National Living Wage in April and concerns over the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy being introduced in April 2017.”