The latest report from the British Retail Consortium shows that the number of stores across the UK rose by 1.8% in Q1 2015, with employment across non-food categories also showing growth.
The report states that full-time employment dipped by 0.1% – a decline caused by food retailers and not non-food categories, which showed growth and a steady increase in investment in jobs.
Q1 2015 also showed an increase of 1.8% in the number of stores across the UK, with month-on-month changes in January, February and March up 2%, 1.8% and 1.8% respectively.
Using this data, the BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor (REM) indicates that 12% of retailers will increase staffing levels in the next three months, compared with 17% this time last year.
In contrast, 20% of retailers are predicted to decrease staffing levels, compared to 8% in 2014.
Director general of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said: “The equivalent number of full-time jobs remained more or less static in March with a slight fall of 0.1 per cent recorded when compared with the same period last year.
“More conspicuous was how employment in non-food retail continued to recover. Not only were more hours worked across the industry but more people were working in an industry that’s busy meeting higher levels of demand. This performance is a result of an increasingly benign economic environment and a further sign that retailers feel more confident about investing for the future. That’s to be welcomed after an extremely tough trading period in recent years.”
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, said: “Recovery in the retail sector is lagging behind the UK labour market due to the immense challenges grocers in particular are facing, from food inflation to changes in consumer shopping behaviour and continued budgetary pressure on households. There are encouraging signs with the small rises in jobs and stores in March however.
“In a squeezed retail market with intense competition and tight margins, keeping employees happy and loyal is even more important, and at the same time much harder. Retailers have to ensure they stay on top of a raft of rapidly changing employment rules, whilst managing their large workforces as efficiently as possible.”