- Q2 2019 represents the fourteenth consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in the retail workforce, evidence that the transformation of the industry continues to play out in earnest.
- Year-on-year, the total number of employees fell by 2.3% in Q2, with full-time employment seeing a higher reduction (3.0%), compared to the decrease in part-time employees (2.0%). Total hours fell by 2.5%, with full-time hours also seeing a higher reduction (2.7%) than part-time hours (2.3%). This represents a slight slowing in the employment decline, with the number of employees falling by 2.4% in Q1 and hours falling by 2.7%.
- Stores growth slowed down to 1.7%, compared to Q1 growth of 2.3%. Both food and non-food retailers added stores. We are seeing the automation of some retail jobs and changing shopping behaviours such that the store is increasingly serving a different role, centred more around customer experience and offering social activities, for which fewer staff is needed.
- 30% of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the coming quarter, above the comparable figure of 25% last year, and 65% seek to keep their staff numbers unchanged (up from 56% last year). Some retailers stated that as the peak trading period of the year, Black Friday and Christmas, approaches, they plan on increasing their part-time workforce.
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“Retail is undergoing a period of profound transformation driven by changing consumer behaviours and innovative technologies. As these structural changes unfold, we have seen retail employment falling across the country, with a 2.3% drop as compared with the previous year; this is equivalent to around 72,000 jobs being lost. Such declines are likely to endure, hastened by Government policies that continue to add costs to an industry already under immense pressures.“With a new Prime Minister and cabinet in place, there is a clear opportunity to rethink the high street strategy. Business rates pose an unsustainable burden on shops and jobs, and we urge the Government to provide immediate relief to retailers large and small in order to facilitate much needed investment in the digital and physical offerings they provide to their customers”.