The number of full-time retail jobs posted a year of continuous decline last quarter as rising store numbers failed to offset sliding employment in the sector.

The equivalent number of full-time retail jobs shrank by 3.9% in the first quarter of the year, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) employment monitor.

Jobs across food and non-food retailers both reported declines, although the number of jobs in the food sector posted the deepest fall.

Conversely, the number of retailer outlets edged up 0.6% during the period, driven by an increase in the number of stores in food retailers’ estates.

Retail jobs slid in all three months of the quarter, with the decline in January’s job numbers only marginally ahead of February and March.

Job cuts

These figures come as some retailers including John LewisSainsbury’s, Boots and Clarks announced planned job cuts this year.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the recorded figures demonstrated “a continuation of a year-long downward trend of retailers reducing the number of hours being worked.”

“Building inflationary pressures and public policy costs, alongside intense competition, are taking their toll and retail, as a people intensive industry, is being hit hard,” she said.

“Looking ahead to the Brexit negotiations for the next Government; certainty for the EU colleagues working in the industry and a business tax environment fit for purpose in the 21st century are what’s needed for the retail industry to drive productivity with better jobs, innovation and new skills for the digital age.”