- Number of full-time retail jobs dips 0.2% in final quarter of 2015
- Drop sparked by a 0.5% fall in the number of stores
- Experts warn of “uncertain” outlook as national living wage and apprenticeship levy loom
The number of full-time retail jobs fell during the fourth quarter of 2015 as experts warned of “serious concerns” for the sector’s labour market.
The equivalent number of full-time jobs dipped 0.2% in the final three months of the year compared with 2014, according to the British Retail Consortium-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor.
That was driven down by a 0.3% decline in the number of stores – marking the first drop in store numbers for three years. December reported a 0.5% drop in the number of jobs and a 0.4% decline in store numbers.
On a rolling three-month basis, food retailers recorded growth in the equivalent number of full-time employees for the second consecutive period.
However, the number of jobs in non-food retail fell during the fourth quarter of 2015 – the first time it has dropped since July 2014.
“Government policies, that come into effect this year, will add as much as £14bn to the retail wages, training and rates bill over the next four years.”
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the outlook for the retail labour market remained “uncertain”, with government policies including the introduction of the national living wage poised to add billions to retailers’ wage bills.
Dickinson said: “Following a relatively buoyant consumer environment last year, 2016 is set to be tough for the retail labour market.
“Government policies, that come into effect this year, will add as much as £14bn to the retail wages, training and rates bill over the next four years, and in doing so are likely to constrain any possibility of strong jobs growth in the industry.
“But, with the Chancellor’s review of business rates reporting in March, there is an opportunity to deliver fundamental reform of rates and instil more confidence in retailers for the future.”
Bond Dickinson head of retail employment Christina Tolvas-Vincent added: “The real tell-tale figures in this report are that retailers’ employment intentions for the next three months are more pessimistic than for the same period last year.
“This reflects a variety of challenges facing the sector but, in our view, the most likely challenges are the impending implementation of the national living wage in April and concerns over the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy being introduced in April 2017.
“As one of the biggest employers in the UK this will have an impact on the retail sector, and these figures suggest that retailers are nervous about laws that will create additional labour costs.”