Record drop in retail jobs as consumers spend less

LOW consumer spending has led to the fastest drop in retail employment since the British Retail Consortium (BRC) started monitoring data in 2008, a study released yesterday showed.

Employment fell by 23,000 in the twelve months to September. Part-time staff were worst hit, while full time employment in the third quarter fell 5,780 on the same period last year.

Fifty-four per cent of retailers plan to increase staff levels for Christmas, down from 61 per cent who planned to in the same month last year.

“Uncertainty about Christmas trading may also be leading retailers to delay taking on seasonal staff – with that reluctance compounded by the new Agency Workers rules,” said BRC director general Stephen Robertson.

However, store numbers did increase over the year – there are now 2.3 per cent more shops than in September 2010. However, this is having a limited impact on employment.

“Food retailers are almost entirely responsible for rising store numbers and curiously the trend for them is towards more full-time job opportunities with part-timers’ hours remaining almost flat,” said Christina Tolvas-Vincent from law firm Bond Pearce.

“This trend could make things more difficult for those looking for flexible employment.”