The equivalent number of full-time jobs fell by 2.5% in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year.
LONDON, 2014-7-24 — /EPR Retail News/ — In the second quarter of 2014, the number of outlets rose by 2.5%, driven entirely by food retailers.
The average number of full-time equivalent staff per store fell to its lowest level indicating a drive towards smaller format stores – particularly in food.
The fall in the number of hours worked was driven by food retailers.
Director General of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said: “It’s clear that today’s figures come as a result of grocery retailer’s focus on boosting productivity in the face of ever more fierce competition. The grocery sector is changing dramatically and the statistics indicate that retailers are increasingly focused at how they can be more efficient in delivering the best possible value to the customer.
“Retailing, in particular grocery retailing, is an extremely low margin business. In order to continue to deliver high quality goods at affordable prices, retailers are keeping an increasingly close eye on their costs – the largest of which are their property and their people. The increasing upward pressure of business rates in recent years has meant that retailers have had less and less control over the cost of their property. This in turn has seen retailers ensuring that their workforce is as productive as possible and deployed across their stores in the most efficient manner.
“Retailing has always been a tough industry that thrives on an abundance of competition – and it will continue to be so. Retailers are well practiced at keeping their costs under control, however UK retailers will only be able to grow and create more jobs if the costs imposed by others, Government in particular, are similarly carefully managed.”
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, said: “While the long term outlook for retail employment continues to be positive the landscape remains challenging. Though food retailers have largely weathered the recession storm, they have faced tough trading conditions of late, which have contributed to the fall in the number of hours worked despite the opening of new stores. Its changing market dynamics indicate that the sector continues to undergo significant transformation, not least from fierce competition from the discounters, who have a leading role in reshaping the grocery sector, but also from smaller format stores, online and the drive for convenience.
“From our research the majority of retailers intend to keep staffing levels the same or increase them marginally, with redundancy levels remaining low. Looking further afield, pop-up retailing, which has been among the fastest growing segments of the retail sector, has the potential to further bolster the sector over the coming 12 months. Furthermore, any amendments to business rates would allow for fundamental reforms providing retailers with a greater opportunity to focus on key areas of growth such as employment.”
British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9BP. 020 7854 8900. email@example.com.