Jobs fall as wages rise

ACS report says 17,000 fewer are employed in c-stores

James Lowman, chief executive, Association of Convenience Stores.

HE number of people employed by the convenience retailing trade in the UK has fallen by more than 17,000 in the past year, according to the Association of Convenience Stores.

In its 2016 Local Shop Report, published last month, the ACS revealed that the UK’s convenience store sector provides jobs for 390,000 people, down from over 407,000 in last year’s report. More staff are said to be working part-time hours.

Following the implementation of the £7.20 National Living Wage in April, the ACS warned that the burden put on retailers was “not sustainable”. It said that if wage rates continued on their planned trajectory to 2020, 90% of retailers could reduce staff hours, 81% would consider cutting staff and 79% were likely to reduce their expansion plans.

Speaking following the publication of the 2016 Local Shop Report, ACS chief executive James Lowman suggested increased wage costs were to blame for the fall in employment numbers.

He said: “The Local Shop Report shows that people of all ages, demographics and interests shop in convenience stores. Retailers have done a fantastic job of diversifying their offering in store and providing a wide range of services, which contributes to the fact that consumers, local councillors and MPs all believe that post offices and convenience stores are the services that have the most positive impact on their local area.

“The number of jobs that our sector provides stands out once again this year. Convenience stores now employ over 390,000 people, providing local flexible jobs to people who are juggling other commitments like child care and studying. For the first time since we started this research in 2012, we have seen a decline in job numbers as well as more staff working part-time hours. This is consistent with the feedback from other ACS surveys showing retailers cutting back on staff hours to cope with the big increases in wage costs, not least because of the National Living Wage.”

According to the report, the proportion of people working full-time in the convenience trade also fell. In 2016, 11% of the total workforce were said to be working full-time, compared to 14% in 2015, suggesting a general move towards more part-time work.