Third-quarter retail employment fell by 2.8% year-on-year, the equivalent of around 85,000 jobs, marking the 15th consecutive quarter of decline in the retail workforce.
According to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), full-time employment saw a decrease of 4.5% compared to the decrease in part-time employees of 1.5%.
Total hours also fell by 2.6%, with full-time hours seeing a greater reduction at 3.2% than part-time hours (2.0%). The BRC said this represents a “slight acceleration” in the fall in employment, with the total number of employees falling by 2.3% in Q2 and total hours falling by 2.5%.
However, it also found that 62% of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the coming quarter, above the comparable figure of 43% last year. No retailers surveyed expressed plans to reduce employment levels, as compared to 21% last year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “We have seen a persistent downwards trend in retail employment over the past three years, with the Q3 fall of 2.8% equivalent to a loss of 85,000 people across the UK retail industry in the preceding 12 months.
“Weak consumer demand and Brexit uncertainty continue to put pressure on retailers already focused on delivering the transformation taking place in the industry. While MPs rail against job losses in manufacturing, their response to larger losses in retail has remained muted.”
She added: “The government should enact policies that enable retailers to invest more in the millions of people who choose to build their careers in retail. In order to promote innovation, training and productivity, g overnment must reform both the broken business rates system, and the inflexibilities of the apprenticeship levy.
“This will allow retailers to focus on enhancing their digital and physical offerings for customers, support the development of employees and ensure high streets remain diverse and exciting places for everyone.”