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UK retail employment falls by 85,000 in Q3

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Thursday 24 Oct 2019

UK retail employment falls by 85,000 in Q3

(Sharecast News) - Retail employment in the UK fell by -2.8% in the third quarter with 85,000 jobs lost over the preceding 12 months.
The grim numbers from the British Retail Consortium came as retailers struggled with weak consumer demand, rising costs, and the shift towards online shopping - all of which had been exacerbated by Brexit uncertainty.

Combined, those headwinds forced the closure of thousands of shops of well known retail names, while exacting a heavy toll in employment.

The latest closures were those of Bonmarché, the fashion chain for over-50s, that went into administration during the previous week, leaving nearly 3,000 more jobs at risk. They came close on the heels of Karen Millen and Coast's falling into administration just a few weeks before, which cost hundreds of people their jobs.

And earlier in October, in the wake of the latest CPI retail figures, BRC said that the 1.7% rise in business rates would mean that retailers would have to cough up an extra £137.0m from April.

"Already, while retail accounts for 5% of the economy, it pays a massive 25% of all business rates. This £137.0m increase will reduce the ability of retailers to invest in their business, their staff and their shops," said the report.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said on Thursday: "We have seen a persistent downwards trend in retail employment over the past three years, with the Q3 fall of 2.8% equivalent to a loss of 85,000 people across the UK retail industry in the preceding 12 months.

"Weak consumer demand and Brexit uncertainty continue to put pressure on retailers already focused on delivering the transformation taking place in the industry. While MPs rail against job losses in manufacturing, their response to larger losses in retail has remained muted."

Dickinson urged the government to enact policies to enable retailers to invest more in the millions of people who chose to build their careers in retail.

"The government must reform both the broken business rates system, and the inflexibilities of the apprenticeship levy. This will allow retailers to focus on enhancing their digital and physical offerings for customers, support the development of employees and ensure high streets remain diverse and exciting places for everyone."

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