Retail jobs and stores plummet

ACS’ latest shop report found jobs down as retailers face financial pressure.
ACS’ latest shop report found jobs down as retailers face financial pressure.

THE number of jobs in the UK convenience sector has fallen despite rising sales and investment from retailers.

Findings from the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2017 Local Shop Report have revealed there are now just over 370,000 jobs in the UK convenience sector, down 20,000 on last year’s figure and 37,000 less than the 407,000 total for jobs in 2015.

The ACS has suggested the reduction in jobs has been caused by retailers adapting to cost increases in their businesses.

Headline findings in the report include a sales increase of £500m, bringing total convenience to £38bn, making the industry comparable in economic terms with defence, recruitment and oil and gas.

Revenues in convenience retailing have increased year on year since the first Local Shop Report in 2012. However, this year’s 1.3% uptick in sales lags behind the CPI inflation figure of 2.6% released by the Office for National Statistics in July of this year.

While jobs are down and growth may lag behind inflation, convenience store retailers were found to have invested over £858m on store improvements.

The report also revealed that there are currently 49,918 convenience stores in the UK, 5,286 of which are in Scotland. This places Scotland second place in the number of stores per capita, at 1,022 people per store, with Wales top of the pile at 977 people per store.

ACS chief executive James Lowman commented on the report: “Convenience stores provide flexible employment for over 370,000 people across the UK, but this number has fallen as a result of significant increases in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, as well as other associated employment costs, alongside rising costs in other areas like business rates.

“In many cases, store owners are having to reduce the number of hours that their staff work whilst picking up extra hours themselves.”

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: “These latest figures graphically highlight the impact of the toxic cocktail of burgeoning tax and regulatory costs and transformational change in the retail industry.

“Sadly our warnings about the impact of rising government-imposed costs on an industry in profound transition are being borne out.”