Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 24th October 2019
Retail businesses across the UK have shed as many as 85,000 jobs over the course of the past 12 months, according to a new set of figures.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for action from government to support retailers nationwide after its latest information highlighted just how significant the scale of job losses has been among high street operators.
“The government should enact policies that enable retailers to invest more in the millions of people who choose to build their careers in retail,” said Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive.
“In order to promote innovation, training and productivity, government must reform both the broken business rates system, and the inflexibilities of the apprenticeship levy,” she added.
Ms Dickinson went on to insist that while MPs have tended to “rail against job losses in manufacturing,” the same cannot be said of the retail sector, where employment levels have now been falling for each of the past 15 quarters.
Weak consumer demand, increased overheads and a growth of online shopping are all cited as key reasons why so many high street retailers have been struggling to survive in recent years.
Both full time and part time employment rates fell during the third quarter of this year, according to the BRC’s most recently released Retail Employment Monitor.
Uncertainty about Brexit is also believed to have hurt retail operations across the country, in part because of its impact on consumer attitudes to spending.
In recent days, the womenswear retailer Bonmarche fell into administration, with its 3,000 staff members facing an uncertain future as a consequence.
Earlier this year, the department store chain Debenhams entered administration and, although it has been able to continue operating, a significant number of store closures and job losses are planned across the business.
“We have seen a persistent downwards trend in retail employment over the past three years, with the third-quarter fall of 2.8 per cent equivalent to a loss of 85,000 people across the UK retail industry in the preceding 12 months,” said Ms Dickinson from the BRC.