By Max Clarke
Full-time jobs in the UK’s retail sector have dropped by 0.4%, or some 3,100 for the second quarter 2011, compared to the same period last year.
This marks the third consecutive quarter of decline, the British Retail Consortium in conjunction with Bond-Pearce have today revealed.
High streets across the country are facing decline, as inflation is forcing price rises that cannot be matched by householders’ declining incomes. Non-food items have suffered more heavily, as consumers tighten their belts by avoiding non-essential purchases.
"Most retailers continue to hold steady and almost one in five still expects to increase jobs, but a growing number are having to limit hours and reduce staff - leaving overall retail employment down on a year ago,” said Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General.
"The split reflects the very different fortunes of retailers selling food - a must-have for customers - and those servicing discretionary and big ticket spending.
In order to combat the pattern of retail decline and reinvigorate consuer confidence, the Government recently recruited journalist and retail guru, Mary Portas to conduct a review of the UK's high streets.
Continued Robertson: "These figures show the sector's crucial role in providing jobs, especially for the under 25s, can't be taken for granted. With the latest GDP data showing how weak the recovery is, the Government needs to act quickly. It must implement its Growth Strategy, particularly reducing government-generated costs from regulation, inconsistent enforcement, business rates and new employment law measures. Large and medium sized companies need the same moratorium on new regulation as the smallest firms."
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, said: "Retailers are still weathering a significant storm and, while their confidence in terms of growth may have been tempered, the downward trend in redundancy figures shows a resilience and commitment to make it out the other side. Despite pressures on consumer spending, it is positive to see that there is flexibility in the retail workforce and, although fewer jobs are being created, they are being held onto wherever possible.
"This resilience is also evident among food retailers, who are still opening stores and creating jobs - despite grocery sales coming under considerable pressure. Retailers are having to be fleet of foot and adapt to the changing landscape - and an uncertain outlook means this will continue to be important."
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