Retail employment falls in second quarter of 2014
The equivalent number of full time jobs in the retail sector fell by 2.5% in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the same period a year earlier.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium and business law firm Bond Dickinson in their Retail Employment Monitor show that the decline in hours worked was driven by the grocery sector, which showed the sharpest decline in hours worked since 2009, despite the number of outlets rising by 2.5% in the period.
The BRC said the figures suggest that retailers are cutting back on hours worked while they continue to open stores, although many are of a smaller format.
BRC Director general Helen Dickinson, said: "Retailing, in particular grocery retailing, is an extremely low margin business. In order to continue to deliver high quality goods at affordable prices, retailers are keeping an increasingly close eye on their costs – the largest of which are their property and their people.
"The increasing upward pressure of business rates in recent years has meant that retailers have had less and less control over the cost of their property. This in turn has seen retailers ensuring that their workforce is as productive as possible and deployed across their stores in the most efficient manner."
The BRC said that 75% of retailers polled said they intend to keep staffing levels unchanged in the coming three months. This compares with 80% this time last year.
However, there was an improvement in the number of retailers intending to increase staffing levels which rose marginally to 21% in the second quarter of 2014. The proportion of retailers planning to decrease staff numbers in the next three months remained at 4%.
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at Bond Dickinson, said: "From our research the majority of retailers intend to keep staffing levels the same or increase them marginally, with redundancy levels remaining low.
"Looking further afield, pop-up retailing, which has been among the fastest growing segments of the retail sector, has the potential to further bolster the sector over the coming 12 months. Furthermore, any amendments to business rates would allow for fundamental reforms providing retailers with a greater opportunity to focus on key areas of growth such as employment."
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