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UK retail employment falls due to new tech and policies

Laura  Barnes
UK retail employment falls due to new tech and policies

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has reported a reduction in employment throughout the UK retail sector in the second quarter of 2017, thanks to the restructuring of the industry.

According to the BRC’s latest Retail Employment Monitor, the equivalent number of full time jobs (FTE) in retail fell by 3.3% compared with the same quarter a year ago. Reductions in hours worked on both full-time and part-time contracts contributed.

All three months of the quarter reported a decline in FTE employment, with April’s decline the steepest of the three months but slower than the previous two months.

The report found that 69% saw a reduction in hours in this quarter compared to last year, and 15% of respondents are intending to decrease employment levels in the coming quarter, compared to 0% in Q2 2016.
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“The second quarter of 2017 saw employment in retail fall as the tide of change continues to sweep through the industry. Technology, which is both transforming the way we shop and providing increasing opportunities for automation in retail, combined with a difficult market environment and policies that have increased the cost of employing people, such as the National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy, are driving the industry towards fewer but more productive jobs,” commented Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC.

"The pace of consolidation in the retail workforce has slowed this quarter compared to last. However, there are further reductions to come. The transformation of the industry is still in progress and this quarters’ data show that more retailers are intending to reduce their workforce in the coming months than at the same point last year.

"As ever, there are some retailers who are thriving and growing their workforce, although they are in the minority. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to our survey saw employees work fewer hours in Q2 this year, compared to last, with reductions particularly acute amongst non-food retailers.

Dickinson concluded: “With consumers seeing inflation squeezing their spending power, the challenges facing retailers will only increase in coming months; reinforcing the pressure on retailers to rethink and restructure their workforce.”

Tags: Retail , brc , retail employment

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