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Costs continue to quell retail jobs expansion

The equivalent number of full-time jobs fell by 1.3% year-on-year in the retail sector in the third quarter of 2014 despite a rise in the number of stores.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Costs continue to quell retail jobs expansion

The equivalent number of full-time jobs fell by 1.3% year-on-year in the retail sector in the third quarter of 2014 despite a rise in the number of stores.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and Bond Dickinson in their Retail Employment Monitor show that the number of outlets rose by 2.9%. Non-food retailers contributed marginally to the overall increase  for the first time for at least two years.

The figures also reveal that the number of full-time equivalent staff per store fell to a record low in the period as retailers move towards smaller store formats.

In addition, food retailers cut back on the number of hours worked compared with the previous year.  

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “This is the fifth month in a row where we have seen a decline in the number of hours worked in retail. This quarter’s fall of -1.3% in full-time equivalent jobs is, once again, driven by food retailers reacting to the significant structural changes that are on-going across the industry.

"Consumers’ preference for convenience top-up shopping, greater competition within the grocery market and the impact of online is changing the grocery store model while operating costs continue to rise. This has meant that food retailers need to maximise the productivity of their existing workforce and deploy them in a smarter, more efficient way. All of this demonstrates how tightly retailers are controlling their costs in a highly competitive marketplace, as they battle to win consumers by keeping prices low.”  

“However it is also worth remembering that as we approach the vital Christmas period, retailers will likely add a large number of temporary staff to their workforce to help them meet increased seasonal demand. Previously we have seen that a  large percentage of these jobs turn into permanent positions.”

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, added: “Despite unemployment being at a six-year low, the retail sector, and particularly the grocery sector, is facing some serious challenges from continued pressure on household budgets, food inflation and the change in consumer shopping habits.” 

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