• Full-time retail jobs decline 0.9% in first quarter of 2016
  • 0.5% drop in number of outlets
  • BRC: “Beginning of predicted downward trend”

The number of full-time jobs in the retail industry has fallen almost 1%, the biggest drop since the third quarter of 2014.

The number of equivalent full-time jobs fell by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year. 

The decline follows a 0.5% drop in the number of outlets in the quarter, which has largely been driven by a drop in food retail outlets, according to Bond Dickinson’s retail employment monitor. March saw the biggest decline, with store numbers falling by around 100.  

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said this is the ”sharpest decline in retail employment” since 2014.

“The start of 2016 registered the biggest dip across the quarter with 1.2% fewer full-time equivalent jobs than in January 2015. This also sits alongside a continued decline in store numbers with retailers reporting 0.5% fewer shops than existed a year ago,” she said.

In February, The BRC’s Retail 2020 report claimed factors including the digital revolution, property leases coming up for renewal and the increasing cost of labour could result in as many 900,000 fewer jobs in retail by 2025.

Dickinson said: “Today’s employment numbers seem to suggest that we have arrived at the beginning of this predicted downward trend.

“It is now for the retail industry, politicians and policy makers to come together to ensure that this change is well managed in order to mitigate its impact on vulnerable communities and economically deprived areas.”

Bond Dickinson’s head of retail employment Christina Tolvas-Vincent said the recently implemented national living wage will ”have an effect on the industry”.

She added: ”The vast majority of retailers intend to keep staffing levels unchanged over the next quarter, revealing a sense of uncertainty which could be attributable to June’s EU referendum.”