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High Street

57,000 retail jobs lost in 2019

Some 57,000 retail jobs were shed in 2019, according to the latest retail employment monitor from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

In the fourth quarter of 2019, there was a 1.8% year-on-year decline in full-time retail employees, which equates to the loss of 57,000 jobs since the same period in 2018. 

This figure represents the 16th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline, with full-time employment decreasing 3% and part-time employment decreasing 1.2% in the quarter.

Meanwhile, store growth for the fourth quarter of 2019 only increased by 0.2%, compared with 2.3% the year prior. 

Some 38% of retailers said they were planning to hire fewer employees in the next quarter, while only 8% said they planned to increase staff in the same period. 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Following figures showing 2019 was the worst year on record for retail sales growth, it comes as no surprise that retail shed the equivalent of 57,000 jobs compared to Q4 last year. 

“There were many challenges in 2019: businesses had to contend with the repeated risk of no deal Brexit, a general election and the ongoing transformation of the industry, leading to weak consumer demand.” 

She added: “As a result, employment has suffered in retail, the UK’s largest private sector employer. This matters – retail offers many people their first job, a range of flexible working options, and huge opportunities for progression. Retailers may be investing heavily in their workers, through training and apprenticeships, but more could be done.

“Moreover, it is worrying that the government is standing by while tens of thousands of jobs are being lost. If the same was true in manufacturing or aviation, one can be sure that the government would act.”

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