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UK retail sector predicted to cut 900,000 jobs

Staff writer ▼ | March 1, 2016
The rate of change within the retail UK workforce is set to quicken as the digital revolution reshapes the industry.
UK retail sector
British retail   The profile and aspirations of the workforce to 2020 and beyond
More property leases come up for renewal and the cost of labour goes up, while the cost of technology goes down. These effects could mean there are as many as 900,000 fewer jobs in retail by 2025 but those that remain will be more productive and higher earning.

This is according to a new report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which sets out how the retail workplace landscape is expected to change in the coming years.

It also suggests that store closures on UK high streets and town centres could exacerbate the impact on employment in already fragile communities with weaker regions and the most vulnerable low paid staff most at risk.

Encouragingly, the result will see improvements in the quality and variety of the offer to customers, continuing competitiveness in pricing and greater productivity from fewer but better jobs.

The report is based on research and modelling across the industry, involving the most senior executives in retail businesses, and considers the implications for jobs in the industry, the profile and aspirations of the workforce to 2020 and beyond.

It finds that areas that are already economically fragile are likely to see the greatest impact of store closures and some of the people affected by changing roles will be those who may find it hardest to transition into new jobs that are created.

Smaller businesses are also likely to be disproportionately affected by the ongoing evolution of the industry, as they generally have fewer ways in which to respond to rising costs.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said: “The key conclusions of today’s report are not surprising – there will be a further contraction in retail space and a reduction in the number of people employed in retail.

“Individual retailers will find their own paths to 2020 and beyond but from an industry perspective, we hope to see technology and competition resulting in better experiences for the customer and better jobs for those working in retail.”