Commenting on the ONS labour market figures released today, Rachel Lund, Head of Retail Insight & Analytics at the BRC said:

"Today's figures show a new record low for unemployment (at 4.3 per cent), as the UK jobs generating machine continues at full steam. However, wage growth remains slower than inflation, leaving the average UK household with lower spending power in real terms than this time last year.

"However, the situation in the retail industry itself could not be more different. Today’s ONS figures confirmed that employment in retail continues to fall, with jobs down 0.5% on last year. At the same time wages are growing rapidly. The latest data from the BRC show that average wages in retail grew 3.4% over the year to March 2017, compared to the 2.1% we saw for the UK as a whole today and the 1.7% for the UK over the year to March – and eve higher growth in wages is expected over the coming year.

"The fact is that, unlike the UK as a whole, retail is experiencing rapid productivity gains, both as technology is transforming the way we shop in the UK and as retailers are re-shaping careers in the industry towards better quality roles with people equipped with the skills to operate in this new era of retailing."