William Eichler 24 October 2019

High street hit as retail employment falls by 85,000

High street hit as retail employment falls by 85,000 image

‘Weak’ consumer demand and ‘Brexit uncertainty’ have been blamed for the continued decline of the high street as new figures reveal thousands of retail jobs have been lost over the last year.

New data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has revealed that retail employment has fallen 2.8% over the last year, which works out as 85,000 jobs lost.

This represents the 15th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in the retail workforce.

The BRC said they expected the long-term decline in employment to continue due to a combined effect of the ongoing structural change, weak consumer spending and fierce competition within the industry.

‘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,’ said the BRC’s chief executive, Helen Dickinson.

‘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.’

Ms Dickinson said the Government should reform the ‘broken business rates’ system and what she described as 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,’ she said.

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