70,000 retail jobs lost in 2018, says trade body BRC

Sebastian McCarthy
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High street retailers have struggled to pay rents amid declining footfall (Source: Getty)

Panic over further troubles on the high street has been underlined this morning, with new figures showing that some 70,000 retail jobs were lost last year.

A retail employment monitor out today from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has found that the total number of jobs was down 2.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018 when compared with the same period in the previous year, as Christmas trading failed to boost the fortunes for many of Britain's retailers.

Meanwhile, full time hours dipped by 2.9 per cent compared with the previous year.

“The retail industry is undergoing a profound change and the latest employment data underpins those trends. Technology is changing both the way consumers shop, but also the types of jobs that exist in retail. While we expect the number of frontline staff to fall over the next decade, there will many new jobs created in areas such as digital marketing and AI,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.

Dickinson added: “However, this transformation comes at a cost for retailers, who are already weighed down by the increasing costs of public policy, from sky high business rates to rising minimum wage. To support this investment in the future of retail, Government needs to play its part, reforming the broken business rates system to ensure it is fit for the 21st century.”

The news comes after several major British retailers such as Debenhams and Marks and Spencer posted a fall in sales over the Christmas period earlier this month, in another sign of the scale of woes facing high street giants battling against online rivals and higher costs.