The British Retail Consortium has called on the new prime minister to “rethink the high street strategy” as retail jobs decline across the country.

The latest BRC employment figures revealed that the retail industry experienced the 14th consecutive quarter of year-on-year decline in its workforce with a further 72,000 jobs being lost across the sector.

This follows data published by the ONS in June that showed that the retail industry lost 79,000 jobs in the first quarter of the year. 

The data for the second quarter of the year, between April and June, showed the total number of retail employees fell by 2.3%. Full-time employees saw a higher reduction in jobs of 3%, with part-time employee roles falling by 2%.

Total employment hours fell 2.5%, with full-time hours seeing a slightly higher reduction of 2.7% against 2.3% for part-time employees.

BRC figures showed that stores growth slowed and noted the sector is “seeing the automation of some retail jobs and changing shopping behaviours such that the store is increasingly serving a different role… for which fewer staff are needed”.

Less than a third of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the third quarter of the year, above the 25% comparable figure last year; 65% said they would look to keep staff numbers unchanged, up from 56% the previous year.


BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson noted that the sector is going through a “period of profound transformation” and called on Boris Johnson to “provide immediate relief” for the sector.

She 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.”

BRC calls for ‘high street rethink’ as retail employment falls