The British Retail Consortium has voiced serious concerns for the 2016 retail labour market after witnessing disappointing fourth quarter 2015 retail employment results.
According to the full BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment monitor for Q4 2015, the number of full-time jobs fell marginally by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same period last year.
While on a rolling three month basis food retailers saw a growth in the equivalent number of employees for the second consecutive period, it was non-food retailers that saw the number of full-time employees fall for the first time since July 2014.
The fourth quarter of 2015 also saw the number of outlets fall by 0.3%. This is the first decline in the number of stores since Q4 2012. Both food and non-food retailers contributed to the overall decrease in the number of stores.
BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson OBE, commented: “Today’s figures suggest that the outlook for the retail labour market remains uncertain in the short-term at least. While the number of full-time jobs in the fourth quarter of 2015 fell marginally when compared with the same period last year, we also saw a small decline in the number of outlets, with both food and non-food retailers closing stores.
“The picture was further muddied with the number of full-time equivalent employees in the food sector rising for the second consecutive quarter while the latest data showed a fall in non-food, the first time since July 2014.”
Dickinson concluded: “Following a relatively buoyant consumer environment last year, 2016 is set to be tough for the retail labour market. Government policies, that come into effect this year, will add as much as £14 billion to the retail wages, training and rates bill over the next four years, and in doing so are likely to constrain any possibility of strong jobs growth in the industry. But with the Chancellor’s review of business rates reporting in March, there is an opportunity to deliver fundamental reform of rates and instil more confidence in retailers for the future.”