Rising costs fuel job loss

SRC claims public policy hurting retail

The SRC said public policy is having a negative impact on retail employment

THE Scottish Retail Consortium has warned that rising costs driven by public policy — and a shift to online spending — are fuelling a decline in the number of jobs in the sector.

Job losses in retail are outstripping new hires according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium, with both the number of employees and total hours worked in decline.

Against a backdrop of store closures and rising operational costs, the BRC’s Retail Employment Monitor found the total number of retail employees in the UK was down 2.2% in last quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 — equivalent to 70,000 jobs.

It also found that the total hours worked in retail had fallen by 2.8% from the year before, with 29% of retailers indicating plans to reduce staff in the coming quarter.

In response, David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium — which represents the BRC north of the border — said: “Retail is undergoing profound transformation driven by changes in shopping habits, squeezed family finances, fierce competition, and rising costs.

“Public policy is pushing up the cost of employing people in stores — through rises in the national living wage, higher statutory employer pension contributions, and apprenticeship levy — at the very same time as the cost and capability of digital routes to market for retailers become more affordable and attractive.

“This is upending many retail business models, which can often be painful for the firms and staff involved.

“What is clear is that the retail industry will look very different in the future.”