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BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor shows resilient retailers weathering the storm

These latest figures show that in the second quarter of 2011, retail employment was down by 0.4% compared with the same quarter a year earlier... by Gavin Matthews, Head of Retail, Bond Pearce.


BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor shows resilient retailers weathering the storm

These latest figures show that in the second quarter of 2011, retail employment was down by 0.4% compared with the same quarter a year earlier... by Gavin Matthews, Head of Retail, Bond Pearce.

This is the equivalent of 3,100 fewer full-time jobs according to our sample.

During the same period the number of retail outlets grew by 4.5%, an additional 743 shops.

However retailers are still weathering a significant storm and, while their confidence in terms of growth may have been tempered, there is a downward trend in redundancy figures which shows a resilience and commitment to make it out the other side. Despite pressures on consumer spending, it is positive to see that there is flexibility in the retail workforce and, although fewer jobs are being created, they are being held onto wherever possible.

In fact June revealed the lowest redundancy rates since the inception of the Monitor in October 2008. With the retail sector under considerable pressure from rising costs and increasing pressure on consumer spending, the redundancy rate will be an important indicator over the coming months.

This resilience is also evident among food retailers, who are still opening stores and creating jobs - despite grocery sales coming under considerable pressure. Retailers are having to be fleet of foot and adapt to the changing landscape - and an uncertain outlook means this will continue to be important.

Never-the-less this is the first time the Monitor has recorded three consecutive months of negative annual jobs growth. Comparing just June with the same month in 2010, the equivalent number of full-time employees fell by 0.7%.

The fall in the numbers of jobs is heavily weighted towards non-food retailers with both their full-time and part-time employees working fewer hours compared with the previous year. Food retailers continued to increase employment.

Employment Intentions for Next Quarter 
The Retail Employment Monitor shows 58% of the sample indicated that they would keep staffing levels unchanged in the next three months, the same as this time last year. 25% of retailers in our sample said they would decrease staffing levels, compared with 8% this time last year. The results indicate a continued weakening in sentiment. There continues to be a divergence between the employment prospects of different retail sectors - food retailers appearing to be more confident about investing and employing more staff.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "Most retailers continue to hold steady and almost one in five still expects to increase jobs, but a growing number are having to limit hours and reduce staff - leaving overall retail employment down on a year ago.
"The split reflects the very different fortunes of retailers selling food - a must-have for customers - and those servicing discretionary and big ticket spending.

These figures show the sector's crucial role in providing jobs, especially for the under 25s, can't be taken for granted. With the latest GDP data showing how weak the recovery is, the Government needs to act quickly. It must implement its Growth Strategy, particularly reducing government-generated costs from regulation, inconsistent enforcement, business rates and new employment law measures. Large and medium sized companies need the same moratorium on new regulation as the smallest firms."

Labour Market Overview
The latest unemployment statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the unemployment rate dropping to 7.7% in the three months to May. The number of unemployed people fell by 26,000 to 2.45 million, but the decline was caused almost entirely by more young people going into full-time education rather than searching for work. The claimant count rose by 24,500 to 1.52 million, the sharpest rise in over two years. 

Youth unemployment continues to be a major concern with the rate among 16 to 24 year olds close to 20% - the highest since the Labour Force Survey began in 1984.

The retail sector will continue to play a vital role in providing jobs for this age group.  Across Britain, retail provides 42% of 16 and 17 years olds in employment with a job.  Similarly it provides 40% and 25% of employment for 18 and 19 year old and 20 to 24 years olds, respectively.




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