The number of people employed in the UK retail sector continues to decline, with increasing online competition said to be a key factor.
According to a report in The Times, the British Retail Consortium’s employment monitor shows a 2.4% year-on-year drop in the number of people employed in the UK retail sector during the first quarter of the year, an increase on the 2.2% decline it reported the final three months of 2018.
The total number of hours worked in retail fell by 2.7%, with a growing number of retailers suggesting that they plan further reductions over the next quarter. Around 17% of employers cited plans to reduce staff, up from 13% last year.
Rising costs, increasing online sales, high business rates and inconsistent consumer spending have all taken their toll on bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, commented: “Retail is undergoing a period of unprecedented change in response to new technologies and changing consumer behaviour. Over three million people rely directly on the retail sector for jobs, with many more working throughout the supply chain. However, spiralling business costs pose a grave threat to these jobs.”