The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that government policies including the new national living wage, the apprenticeship levy and rising business rates will add as much as £14bn to retailers’ bills over the next four years.
A report being released by the industry body today estimates that as many as 900,000 jobs could be lost by 2025 as a result of retailers trying to meet these costs, in what would be a shocking blow for the country’s largest private sector employer.
Read more: Death of the high street? Don't be so sure
Chancellor George Osborne introduced plans for the new National Living Wage (NLW) last summer, saying the minimum wage would rise to £7.20 per hour for workers over the age of 25 from next month. The NLW is expected to increase incrementally, topping out at £9 per hour by 2020.
The Office for Budget Responsibility estimated that the increase in cost could result in as many as 60,000 jobs being lost, as retailers cut their workforce in order to adapt.
Supermarkets Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda have already cut thousands of jobs over the past year in an effort to cut costs and adapt to changing shopping habits.
The BRC’s report comes after a leaked document this weekend revealed that Tesco is considering cutting 39,000 jobs over the next three years.
The supermarket has confirmed the document but said it had no plans to carry further job losses and that it was part of various scenarios modelled by the company.