BRC-BOND DICKINSON RETAIL EMPLOYMENT MONITOR Q3 2014: The equivalent number of full-time jobs fell by 1.3% in Q3 2014 vs same period last year

The equivalent number of full-time jobs fell by 1.3% in the third quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year.

LONDON, 2014-10-24— /EPR Retail News/ — In the third quarter of 2014, the number of outlets rose by 2.9%. Non-food retailers contributed marginally to the overall increase, the first time for at least two years, according to our sample.

The average number of full-time equivalent staff per store fell to a record low indicating a drive towards smaller format stores – particularly in food.

Food retailers cut back on the number of hours worked compared with the previous year.

BRC Director General, Helen Dickinson, said: “This is the fifth month in a row where we have seen a decline in the number of hours worked in retail. This quarter’s fall of -1.3% in full-time equivalent jobs is, once again, driven by food retailers reacting to the significant structural changes that are on-going across the industry. Consumers’ preference for convenience top-up shopping, greater competition within the grocery market and the impact of online is changing the grocery store model while operating costs continue to rise. This has meant that food retailers need to maximise the productivity of their existing workforce and deploy them in a smarter, more efficient way. All of this demonstrates how tightly retailers are controlling their costs in a highly competitive marketplace, as they battle to win consumers by keeping prices low.

“However it is also worth remembering that as we approach the vital Christmas period, retailers will likely add a large number of temporary staff to their workforce to help them meet increased seasonal demand. Previously we have seen that a large percentage of these jobs turn into permanent positions.”

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, said: “Despite unemployment being at a six-year low, the retail sector, and particularly the grocery sector, is facing some serious challenges from continued pressure on household budgets, food inflation and the change in consumer shopping habits. This has resulted in a year-on-year drop in the number of full time employees and a fifth consecutive fall in the number of hours worked. Even the anticipation of Christmas appears muted this year in terms of recruitment, perhaps due to the weak wage increases reported across the UK.”

“Retailers have always needed to be nimble in order to cope with economic developments, this year they have also needed to adapt to frequent changes to employment laws. As the retail industry employs more than 3 million people in the UK it must keep a finger on the pulse of the law as well as the economy. A lot of the retailers we work with are not just reacting to legislation but actively trying to stay ahead of it by looking after their staff better than their competitors. The attraction and retention of employees can be seen as part of the same equation as attraction and retention of customers.”

British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9BP. 020 7854 8900. info@brc.org.uk.