ONS figures show small boost to retail job numbers
Responding to the latest ONS jobs figures, which show 3.042m jobs in retail, up 1,000 year-on-year, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “UK retail gained 1,000 jobs as compared with Q1 2020, though this includes over half a million workers on furlough at the time. The year-on-year rise also reflects the many jobs that have been created in logistics, fulfilment, food retail as well as the many technical roles required by the huge growth in online sales, with many retailers still struggling to fill the number of vacancies in these areas. These jobs are often more productive and better paid, reflecting a trend in the industry.
Meanwhile, city centre jobs, particularly in fashion outlets, as well as many other ‘non-essential’ retail shops, have seen some reduction in job numbers. And there could be further losses for these roles, given city centre footfall still remains down on pre-pandemic levels. Overall numbers in retail may fall in Q2 and Q3, when the government’s furlough scheme is wound down.
“This is only part of the changing nature of retail employment, diversity and inclusion is essential to a healthy industry. While progress has started to be made, notably on senior representation of women, they continue to be underrepresented at board level. There is much further to go to ensure that retail leadership is representative of the UK population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability and social mobility. To ensure progress, over fifty major retailers pledged to take decisive action to improve diversity practices across the retail industry. This pledge will focus on oversight, recruitment, progression, reporting, inclusivity and responsibility.”