The number of full-time staff per store fell to a record low in the third quarter as retailers shifted to smaller-format stores.

Convenience stores have contributed to a record low in numbers of staff per store

The BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor revealed full-time equivalent jobs fell by 1.3% during the quarter despite a net rise in the number of stores.

Research showed a net increase of 505 stores in the third quarter as grocery retailers invested in smaller-format stores to increase their convenience propositions.

Non-food retailers contributed marginally to the 2.9% increase in stores for the first time in at least two years.

The number of full-time staff per store has now hit the lowest level since the inception of the monitor in 2008.

BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said: “This is the fifth month in a row where we have seen a decline in the number of hours worked in retail. This quarter’s fall of 1.3% in full-time equivalent jobs is, once again, driven by food retailers reacting to the significant structural changes that are ongoing across the industry.

“Consumers’ preference for convenience top-up shopping, greater competition within the grocery market and the impact of online is changing the grocery store model while operating costs continue to rise.

“However it is also worth remembering that as we approach the vital Christmas period, retailers will likely add a large number of temporary staff to their workforce to help them meet increased seasonal demand. Previously we have seen that a large percentage of these jobs turn into permanent positions.”

Some 42% of retailers included in the research intend to increase staffing levels in the next three months, compared with 72% this time last year.

The majority of retailers intend to keep staffing levels unchanged in the next three months, while the proportion intending to reduce staff numbers fell to 4% from 8% year-on-year.

The redundancy rate has also increased to the highest level since July 2013, according to the research.

Bond Dickinson head of retail employment Christina Tolvas-Vincent said: “Despite unemployment being at a six-year low, the retail sector, and particularly the grocery sector, is facing some serious challenges from continued pressure on household budgets, food inflation and the change in consumer shopping habits.

“Even the anticipation of Christmas appears muted this year in terms of recruitment, perhaps due to the weak wage increases reported across the UK.”