Retail employment falls

Shopworker stacking shelves

The number of jobs in the retail sector dropped by 2.5% in the first quarter of 2018, according to the latest BRC Retail Employment Monitor.

Total hours were also down, by 3.2%. Most retailers surveyed reported a reduction in both hours and employment.

The disappointing job figures were accompanied by a 2.3% fall in store numbers. Additionally, growth in store sales during Q1 declined by 3.0%.

One-eighth (12.5%) of the survey’s respondents said they planned to reduce staffing levels, compared to 14% a year ago.

Saying that “these are profoundly challenging times”, David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, commented: “Scotland’s retailers are having to contend with significant changes in shopping habits, squeezed consumers and spiralling government-imposed costs.

“Responding positively to all of this requires substantial outlays on digital infrastructure, a higher skilled workforce and revamped logistics capability, hugely challenging at a time when retailers are forking out more for things like the apprenticeship levy and the large firms’ business rates surcharge.

“These figures ought to serve as a wake-up call to policy makers, beginning with a far greater focus being brought to bear on reducing the costs of doing business.”