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Retail employment down 0.6% in fourth quarter of 2014

The equivalent number of full-time jobs in retail slipped by 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Retail employment down 0.6% in fourth quarter of 2014

The equivalent number of full-time jobs in retail slipped by 0.6% in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and business law firm Bond Dickinson in their Retail Employment Monitor, show that retail employment fell year-on-year in October and November but rose in December by 0.9%.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “It appears that December was not only a good month for retail sales but also for retail employees – staff numbers were marginally up on last year as retailers hired more people to meet the seasonal demand from shoppers. This increase is important because a temporary job at Christmas is the gateway for many to a long and fulfilling career in our industry.”

While food retailers cut back on the number of hours worked compared with the previous year for the 14th consecutive month, the equivalent number of full-time employees in non-food retail rose in the quarter.

Meanwhile, the number of stores increased by 1.9% in the three month period with non-food retailers continuing to provide a marginal contribution to the overall increase.

Dickinson added: “Over the whole quarter, though staff numbers in food businesses dipped (a sign of the on-going restructuring and the development of new business models), non-food businesses continue to increase their staffing levels. These increases are welcome and demonstrate clear optimism among non-food retailers going into 2015.  This performance also mirrors the wider economy which saw unemployment fall to 5.8% - the lowest for over six years.”

The figures show that 4% of the retailers polled intend to increase staffing levels in the next three months compared with 4% at the same time last year. While 50% said they intend to cut staffing levels in the next three months compared to 54% last year, 46% said they will keep staffing levels unchanged.

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at Bond Dickinson, said: “These figures indicate the tough challenges facing the grocery sector and the structural changes it is having to make to adapt to changes in consumer habits and increased competition from discounters. However, there are promising signs of recovery for retailers including the upturn in full-time equivalent employees in December and the increased number of stores, primarily driven by the food sector.  

“Many of the retailers we work with see customer service as a key part of their strategy and are taking great pains to ensure they not only stay ahead of the curve on employment laws but go above and beyond them to attract and retain the best people available.”

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