The number of jobs in the UK retail sector slumped by 62,000 in the second quarter of 2017, according to new figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said headcount in stores and outlets slipped 2.2% year-on-year – a bigger decline than any other industry group.
However, the drop in retail employees was blamed partly on the collapse of BHS, which sparked 11,000 job losses.
Despite the slump, retail remains one the UK’s biggest industries, employing more than 2.8 million people across the country.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) cited the shift to online shopping, technological advances and cost pressures such as the National Living Wage as the key reasons driving the fall in retail jobs.
The industry body has predicted that there will be 900,000 fewer jobs in the sector by 2020, as retailers strive to create “fewer, better jobs”.
Rachel Lund, the BRC’s head of retail insights and analytics, said: “As our analysis predicted, jobs in retail are falling as the tide of change sweeps through the retail industry.
“A transformation in the way we shop as more is done online, the availability of technologies to replace jobs now done by humans and policy pressures from the National Living Wage and apprenticeship levy are all pushing the industry towards falling employment.
“The BRC is working with retailers and the Government to ensure that, while there will be fewer jobs, they will be better and more productive.”