Retail employment rose 0.5% in fourth quarter of 2011
The Monitor measured a net fall in the number of non-food stores in December compared with the same time last year. The overall increase in the equivalent number of full-time workers and stores was driven by food retailers.
The fall in full-time equivalent non-food workers was driven by a loss of part-time jobs, which fell fastest.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: "Following reductions in non-food staff numbers during 2011, we're now seeing stores close. Retailers are focused on reducing costs and reviewing property portfolios, which means employment prospects are weakening. After a raft of retail failures in the first few weeks of 2012 there is a danger more stores will be pushed over the edge.
"Retailers are facing a 5.6% leap in business rates in April, despite inflation already falling well below this level. The Government can protect the jobs market by showing restraint setting the National Minimum Wage, and by acting more swiftly on employment reforms such as simplifying the tribunal process."
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, added: "There are still those who remain fairly optimistic for 2012, despite the tough trading conditions. The disparity between food and non-food retailers remains and some supermarkets will continue to provide growth. However for many non-food retailers the focus is more on survival than growth and those who feel vulnerable already need to do everything they can to prevent outright failure.
"Redundancy figures are still relatively low but if more retailers fail this may change. It also seems unlikely that growth in retail, a major employer in the private sector, will compensate for public sector losses as some had hoped."
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