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BRC says retail employment increased 0.4% in Q1

While wider unemployment in the UK continues to stay worryingly high, the retail sector has helped plug the gap recently by adding an extra 3,011 full-time jobs to the economy in the first quarter of 2012.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) & Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor, published today, there was a 0.4 per cent rise in retail jobs during the first quarter of this year, with the majority of these positions being created by food stores.

Although full-time positions were created the largest boost to employment within the sector came from part-time positions, the research also revealed.

Given the large retail names such as Blacks & Peacocks which fell into administration during the period, and the general reduction in store portfolios being undertaken by many high street businesses, this rise in employment represents a resilient performance by the sector.

Stephen Robertson, BRC Director General, said: “The small increase in overall retail employment for the first quarter of this year is encouraging but it is clear from our return to recession just how fragile any growth is.

“None of these jobs can be taken for granted. Retailers are more positive about their immediate employment intentions than a year ago, but the GDP figures confirm 2012 will still be very tough for businesses and households.”

Stagnation in job numbers looks likely in the coming months with 71 per cent of retailers surveyed saying they would keep staffing levels unchanged, compared to 54 per cent making this claim at the same time last year.

Though vacancy rates remain high in many parts of the country the net increase in store numbers at the start of this year helped to boost job numbers, and whereas this time last year 29 per cent of retailers were preparing to reduce headcount only eight per cent are now indicating that they intend to decrease staffing levels.

Over the first quarter of this year national store numbers increased by 858 shops, a rise of 4.9 per cent year-on-year.

Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, added: Retailers must adapt and evolve in order to survive in these tough conditions, average earnings are still falling behind inflation, and this will shape consumer behaviour for some time to come.

“Redundancy figures are still relatively low but if more retailers fail this will change and as the largest employer in the private sector this has a huge impact, particularly for young people, on the job market.”

Source : Jon Whiteaker

26 April 2012
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