Call for cuts in costs

85,000 jobs lost as crisis grows in Britain’s high streets


Shop closures have cost thousands of workers their jobs (pic: Terry Murden)

Shop workers continue to suffer the brunt of the high street squeeze with retailers shedding 85,000 jobs in the last year.

The growing crisis has prompted new calls for governments to ease the cost pressures on retailers which are adding to changes in shopping habits.

Jobs and hours worked fell for the 15th consecutive quarter, with the number of employees down by 2.8% year on year and full-time workers 4.5% lower. There were 1.5% fewer part-time employees.

Total hours worked fell by 2.6%, with full-time hours down 3.2% against a 2% fall in part-time hours.

Even so, 62% of retailers indicated plans to increase staff in the coming quarter, against 43% last year.

The retail employment trends are in stark contrast to the UK labour market as a whole. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK employment increased by 0.3 percentage points on the year, reaching 75.9% over the three months to August 2019, just below the record-high employment rate of 76.1%. 

The British Retail Consortium, which compiled the data, expects the long-term decline in employment to continue due to a combined effect of the ongoing structural change, weak consumer spending and fierce competition within the industry.

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