Although the majority of retailers defied expectation with strong Christmas trading, the fall in retail jobs during the period painted a less festive picture.
Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that the number of equivalent full-time jobs across the sector dropped 3% in the final quarter of the year and slumped 4.6% in the peak trading month of December.
However, as increased salary costs begin to bite and with another hike in the national living wage looming, retailers will no doubt be grappling with how to accommodate these new costs without impacting their profits.
BRC boss Helen Dickinson said that the retailers were cutting staff hours to “adjust to structural changes in the industry”, and the pace of that change will only accelerate in the coming months.
One retailer who has not been deterred by industry headwinds is Habitat, which revealed plans to trial a mini store format in Leeds this week.
And elsewhere, shopping centre Hammerson posted a 0.7% rise in like-for-like sales across its estate during December.
Quote of the day
“A lot of our online customers in the area have highlighted that they want to physically interact with products before they buy, which the new store allows them to do as well as getting advice from our in-store colleagues.”
– Habitat’s managing director Clare Askem on plans to open a new mini-store format in Leeds this week
Today in numbers
The jump in retail sales across Findel’s largest business, Express Gifts
The number of new stores Card Factory plans to open this year
With no formal updates scheduled tomorrow, watch out for our video round-up of the week’s biggest stories on The Retail Week.
Grace Bowden, Junior Reporter