BRC calls for a "demand-led and simple" solution for EU workers as UK faces workforce shortage

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EU workers make up six per cent of retail employees in the UK (Source: Getty)

Uncertainty over the UK's position on immigration is creating a workforce shortage, the UK's retail industry body has warned.

New figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) suggest that uncertainty over the result of Brexit negotiations has already led some EU workers to leave the UK.

The BRC's latest report into the impact of Brexit on consumers found that 22 per cent of retailers reported that people from the EU have already left their workforce since the vote to leave the bloc.

A further 56 per cent said colleagues are concerned about their right to remain in the UK.

Read more: City Hall issues Brexit demands to Sadiq Khan on EU citizens' rights

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE called for a "demand-led and simple alternative" to freedom of movement in response to the data.

She argued that "it is clear that unless we have the right structures in place to [help] retailers attract, recruit and retain workers, consumers will soon start to see and feel an impact as they shop."

She added: "We recognise that free movement from the EU is coming to an end, and that this is a reset moment. So, at a time when the retail industry is in the midst of a transformation that is changing the very nature of retail jobs, we need a demand-led and simple alternative. Simple for employees and employers alike and based on consumer need not political rhetoric."

Some 170,000 people from the EU work directly in retail, making up six per cent of the industry's workforce.

Read more: Carolyn Fairbairn describes stalemate over EU workers as "intolerable"

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