The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) claimed today that 21% of retailers will reduce headcount over the Christmas period.
The BRC described the figure as “surprising given the next quarter is the busiest for retailers” after releasing the results of its latest Retail Employment Monitor.
When the BRC carried out the poll at the same stage last year, not a single store said it had plans to reduce staff.
The amount of stores planning to increase staff over the year’s final quarter (36%) has halved from last year, in line with stores which plan on making no changes (43%).
The BRC found that only 36% planned to increase staff and whilst 43% plan on making no changes, both figures have halved since last year.
Total hours fell 2 % in the third quarter, with hours in the industry down through July to September, a trend which the BRC said is in “stark contrast to the whole UK economy”, which continues to see record lows in unemployment.
Hours lost were mainly full-time hours, with retailers using their part-time workforce more flexibly, offering additional hours instead of increasing full-time roles.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, said: “The retail industry, the country’s largest private sector employer, continues to be under considerable pressure.
“While pay is growing much faster than in other industries, employment in retail continues to fall. And there are challenging times ahead, with a fifth of retailers indicating plans to reduce staff ahead of retail’s busiest quarter, when normally they would be looking to increase headcount.”
The BRC has also reported that store growth has halved since this time last year, slowing down to 0.7%.
Dickinson said: “As the Autumn budget looms, the retail industry is looking to the Government to help alleviate some of the pressure of a broken business rates system. An indication that reform is coming would provide welcome relief to the industry and to those who work within it.”