Retail job numbers fall as furlough scheme winds down
Responding to the latest ONS jobs figures, which show 3.015m jobs in retail, down 89,000 year-on-year, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The UK retail industry lost 89,000 jobs when compared with Q2 2020, bringing the total to 3.015 million retail jobs in the UK. Despite strong retail sales in recent months, the industry has been weighed down by continued low footfall in shopping centres and city centres, the rising number of vacant shops, and competition for jobs from the hospitality sector. Meanwhile, the number of furloughed workers continuing the fall in retail, with the latest figures showing 106,000 still on the government scheme.
“The decline in retail employment is reflected in the chronic shortage of key retail jobs such as HGV drivers and distribution centre staff. This has left some retailers facing supply chain challenges, resulting in some empty shelves. Retailers have responded by increasing pay for workers, particularly in essential logistics roles. However, to bridge the gap while new British workers are trained, the government must provide a temporary worker visa scheme for HGV drivers and find ways to address other worker shortages.
“Despite the falling number of retail jobs, industry pay has risen steadily over the last two decades. BRC research shows that pay has risen 44% since 2008, as jobs become higher skilled and productivity of the industry increases. Overall, the retail industry is making a key contribution to the economic recovery and levelling up agenda.”