Retail employment up, stores down

The British Retail Consortium has announced that retail employment in the UK rose by 0.6% in Q4 2012 compared with a year earlier. This is despite a record fall in the number of shops in the period: 3.6%.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “The fact that total employment edged up during this quarter, driven by part-time workers, is a shaft of light against an otherwise challenging backdrop. It shows that, despite relentlessly tough times, retailers are continuing to invest in people and support job creation as much as they can. But the record drop in store numbers is stark evidence that this investment should not be taken for granted. We’re by no means out of the woods yet – given the administrations of recent weeks, the next quarter’s figures are likely to make difficult reading. Half our sample intend to decrease staffing levels during the first quarter of this year and only 4% plan to increase them. This trend is to be expected at this time of year due to reductions in temporary seasonal staff, but the rate is higher compared with last year and further highlights testing times still to come.”