Retail employment in the third quarter grew at its weakest rate in 2013, rising just 1%, but retailers aim to step up staffing levels for Christmas.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor revealed the number of full-time contracts grew at its fastest rate for more than three years.

An increase in part-time workers in the food sector drove the number of hours worked, while non-food retailers reported full-time hours worked grew at a faster pace than part-time hours.

Bond Dickinson head of retail employment Christina Tolvas-Vincent said: “Food retailers continue to outpace non-food retailers in terms of hours worked and store numbers; the success of the food sector is a crucial driver in the overall growth of the retail sector and this shows no sign of changing.”

In preparation for the busy Christmas season, the proportion of retailers that intend to increase staffing levels in the fourth quarter rose to 72% from 68% last year. About 20% of the sample said they plan to keep staffing levels unchanged, against 24% last year.

Meanwhile, the number of outlets rose by 1.6%, up 285 stores in the quarter, driven entirely by food retailers.

BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “This slowing of growth supports the trend we have seen in recent BRC figures for gentler growth in sales and a slight fall recently in the number of people visiting our shops.

“The overall trend remains that jobs in retail are growing. In fact, we have reported positive growth in the number of jobs the retail sector offers every quarter for the last two years.”