Retailers face uncertain jobs outlook over fears of rising costs

 
Kasmira Jefford
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The number of retailers planning to hire more staff has dropped sharply since last year (Source: Getty)

The number of retailers planning to hire more staff has dropped sharply over the last year, a new survey today shows, due to concerns over rising costs from the introduction of the National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and law firm Bond Dickinson’s latest employment monitor found that 21 per cent of retailers intend to increase staffing levels in the next three months compared with 75 per cent this time last year.

Retailers planning to cut staff over the next quarter also increased to 17 per cent compared with five per cent last year. Meanwhile 63 per cent of respondents said they intend to keep their staff levels the same – up from 20 per cent in 2015.

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at Bond Dickinson, said increased pessimism among the retailers reflected “a variety of challenges” – the most likely being the implementation of the National Living Wage in April and concerns over the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy being introduced in April 2017.

“As one of the biggest employers in the UK this will have an impact on the retail sector, and these figures suggest that retailers are nervous about laws that will create additional labour costs,” she added.

The number of full-time jobs fell marginally in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 0.2 per cent, followed an 0.8 per cent rise in the third quarter. There was also a fall in the number of outlets, down 0.3 per cent, with both food and non-food retailers closing stores.

BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said after a relatively buoyant consumer environment last year, jobs growth is likely to remain constrained as government policies add as much as £14bn to retail wages, training and rates bills over the next four years.

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