The retail industry shed 70,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of last year compared to the same period in 2017, new figures have revealed.
The slump represented a decline of 2.2%, according to the BRC Retail Employment Monitor.
Both full- and part-time contracts suffered a reduction in hours, with full-time falling 2.9% and part-time 2.8%.
The figures mark a stark contrast to nationwide data from the Office for National Statistics, which suggested the number of people in employment across all industries rose by 141,000 in the three months to November – driving a record employment rate of 75.8%.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The retail industry is undergoing a profound change and the latest employment data underpins those trends. Technology is changing both the way consumers shop, but also the types of jobs that exist in retail.
“While we expect the number of frontline staff to fall over the next decade, there will many new jobs created in areas such as digital marketing and AI.”
The BRC said the first quarter of 2019 will see 29% of retailers reduce staff numbers further – the same proportion as the previous year.
However, a greater number of retailers surveyed said they had plans to increase staff numbers, compared to the same time in 2018.