Retail employment rose by 3.7% in the second quarter of 2013 compared with a year earlier, the strongest growth since December 2009, reports the BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor (REM). It also found that, in the second quarter of 2013, the number of outlets rose by 1.5%, driven entirely by food retailers – and that there was a marginal improvement in employment intentions compared with the previous year.
The BRC-Bond Dickinson REM indicates that 80% of the sample intend to keep staffing levels unchanged in the third quarter of 2013.
According to the sample, 4% suggested that they will decrease staffing levels in the next three months – level with last year – while 16% of the retailers in the sample suggested that they will increase staffing levels. Retailers intending to increase staffing levels are predominantly food retailers.
Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, says: “This is the best result we’ve seen for retail jobs since 2009, and it adds to the recent positive news on the labour market from ONS. While we know that there is considerable regional variation in retail performance and footfall, these new jobs provide further evidence that a consumer recovery is starting to take shape.
“Retail employs more people than any other private sector industry, and is a major source of jobs for younger people. The boost in employment we have seen today will therefore be particularly welcome news for everyone entering the market this summer and looking to start a rewarding career in retail with one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative industries.
“The small increase in intention to employ is also significant. Almost all those surveyed intend to employ more people or have the same number of people working for them over the next three months. This means that four times as many retailers are looking to increase employment in the coming months as are looking to decrease it.”
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, adds: "It's a welcome moment for optimism that retail employment figures are looking up overall, and not just in the food sector. This mirrors the buoyant UK employment figures. The growth of 263 additional stores also strikes a positive note, although this is entirely driven by the grocery sector, while the number of non-food stores continues to decline.
“The contraction of non-food stores highlights the structural change in retail, with e-retailing growing fast and consumers choosing to shop increasingly online. It would be interesting to know whether the new jobs fuelling the strongest growth in UK retail employment since 2009 are in e-retailing or more traditional store-based retail positions. Where are retailers investing for the future?
“Although redundancy levels are still relatively high, most retail employers intend to keep staff numbers the same or increase them. This suggests more good news to come, and, who knows, perhaps the arrival of the royal baby will kickstart a new wave of feelgood consumer spending as many retailers hope!"