26 July 2012 11:34
The BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor (REM) showed a decline in the number of retail outlets, falling by 0.5% compared with the previous quarter – 88 fewer shops in the sample taken. This is the first time that a fall has been recorded since the survey began in October 2008.
In the second quarter of 2012, retail employment – effectively total hours worked – rose by 1.8% compared with the same quarter in 2011, the equivalent of 12,648 more full-time jobs. The overall increase was driven entirely by food retailers, with the fastest growth from part-time workers. In non-food retailing the total hours worked fell.
The proportion of retailers suggesting that they will decrease staffing levels over the next quarter has fallen to just 4% compared with 25% for the same period last year.
The REM indicates that 83% of the sample will keep staffing levels unchanged, compared with 58% last year.
The proportion of retailers indicating they will decrease staffing levels fell to 4% compared with 25% this time last year. This marks a significant improvement in employment intentions for this time of year, continuing the trend from the previous quarter.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general, said: "Retail as a whole is still where much-needed new jobs are coming from but, within that, it's food retailing that's providing more work. Big events like the Jubilee celebrations provided a limited boost to employment levels but underlying weakness in the economy and consumer confidence continue to hit sales and job numbers in non-food retailing.
"Overall retail sales growth across the first half of 2012 was no better than a year earlier and the first decline in store numbers among retailers in the survey since it started in October 2008 shows the worst-hit shops being shut as customers hold back spending. Supermarkets, continuing to open smaller-format stores, are masking the potential of a much sharper decline. Without them, total shop numbers would have fallen further.
"Even so, retailers' sentiment about the coming quarter has improved. A year ago a quarter said they would be cutting jobs. Now that's only 4%. And, the relaxation of Sunday trading laws during the Olympics is expected to provide a boost to the number of hours worked over the coming months."