Thousands of retail jobs have disappeared in the past year as store groups initiated job freezes and other measures to reduce staff levels without axing staff.

Retailers have managed to avoid large-scale redundancy programmes so far, but data compiled by Monster, the world’s largest online recruitment company, highlights the extent to which recruitment has been scaled back as a result of the downturn.

Monster found that retail experienced the biggest decline in jobs advertised on online recruitment boards and corporate career sites, down 13.5 per cent in July compared with the same month last year.

Recruitment consultancy RMC’s vice-president of business development Joseph Leftwich said: “Fewer retailers are looking to recruit and are changing the terms on which they do business. It’s not looking pretty.”

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said: “Retailers are paying significant attention to cutting costs and one of the largest costs is employment. I expect there to be more job culls, as well as companies not filling their vacancies as the year progresses.”

One senior retail recruitment source agreed, saying: “A lot of retailers are doing quiet restructuring that will take out whole layers. Those jobs most commonly being cut are customer service and admin roles, as well as buying assistant roles.”