Retail employment rose by 1% in the third quarter of 2013 compared with a year earlier, the weakest growth this year. In addition, the number of full-time contracts grew at the fastest rate for over three years. In the third quarter of 2013, the number of outlets rose by 1.6%, driven entirely by food retailers. For non-food, growth in hours worked was supported by an uptake of full-time workers.
The BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor indicates that 72% of the sample intends to increase staffing levels in the run-up to Christmas.
According to the sample, 8% suggested that they will decrease staffing levels in the next three months, unchanged on the previous year. A fifth of the sample suggest that they will keep staffing levels unchanged in the next three months.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, says: “While these are still positive results, and I am particularly encouraged by the growth of full time employment over the last quarter, it is true that overall growth has slowed a little since the very strong results we reported last time. This slowing of growth supports the trend we have seen in recent BRC figures for gentler growth in sales and a slight fall recently in the number of people visiting our shops.
“The overall trend remains that jobs in retail are growing. In fact, we have reported positive growth in the number of jobs the retail sector offers every quarter for the last two years. Our figures are based on a robust three month rolling average so they demonstrate the continuing importance of the industry in employing more people than any other private sector area. This quarter has also seen another increase in those retailers looking to hire more people. With 72% of those we surveyed looking to recruit more people in the run up to Christmas, this represents a good opportunity for anyone looking to start a career in retail over the coming months.”
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, says: "The importance of the retail sector for UK employment is demonstrated once again by this report. The continued growth is underpinned by the strongest growth in full time contracts for more than three years. With the growing debate about employment contracts, it is interesting that retailers are creating more full time jobs as well as the more flexible part time or seasonal jobs that you might traditionally associate with the retail industry.
Seasonal hiring is on most retailers' agendas, with around three quarters planning to increase staffing levels in the next three months and with redundancy levels significantly lower than they were earlier in the year, the retail sector will be providing sought after opportunities for those looking for work."
The latest labour market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) continued the positive trend in the jobs market. Employment rose by 155,000 to a new peak of 29.87m in the three months to August with a heavy weighting towards full-time permanent positions.
Unemployment dropped by 18,000 to 2.49m, while the claimant count fell at the fastest rate for 16 years. The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has now fallen for 11 consecutive months with September’s figure of 1.35m down 41,700 on the previous month. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.7% which was in line with economists’ expectations.
Growth in average earnings disappointed, rising by just 0.7% year-on-year and down from 1.2% last month. In real terms, this indicates average earnings rose by less than one third of the rate of inflation.
Unemployment among 16-24 year olds was down fractionally to 958,000 – 21% of the workforce in this age group.
The latest data from the BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor (REM) showed that retail employment rose by 1% in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same period a year earlier. This was down on the previous quarter and shows the slowest rate of growth in full-time equivalent (FTE) employment since December 2012 (3 month rolling average).
Within the quarter, July showed the strongest rate of growth at 1.7%, continuing the positive trend over the summer. Growth in full-time employment continued for a sixth consecutive month (3 month rolling average), a marked improvement on the previous year and indicative of rising levels of confidence for retailers. The last six months has shown the strongest growth in full-time contracts for over three years.
Non-food growth has been held up by an increase in the number of full-time hours worked which have grown at a fastest pace than part-time. In terms of store numbers, the non-food sector continues to record declining stores numbers in our sample – reflective of underlying structural changes in the sector.
The number of stores continued to grow at a more modest rate after a decline in the final quarter of 2012 – up by 1.6% in the third quarter year-on-year. While the number of stores has risen for grocery retailers, growth in the average number of employees per outlet has fallen, indicating the continued drive towards opening smaller format outlets.
72% of the sample intended to increase staffing levels in the run-up to Christmas, up on last year when 68% of the sample indicated that they would increase staffing levels. Around one in four retailers in the sample indicated that they would be keeping staffing levels unchanged – broadly consistent on last year – while just 8% suggested that they were looking to decrease levels of staff over the next three months.
There was a net rise in the number of stores recorded in our sample in the third quarter of 2013 – 285 additional stores. Store growth has remained remarkably stable over since the beginning of the year after a sharp decline in Q4 2012. Within the sample, the number of stores grew by 1.6% in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same period last year.
Redundancy levels fell from an all-time high in March and have returned to levels consistent with the long-run average over the last 12 months.