Apprentice Levy and national living wage take their toll on retailers

 

Many of us applauded the Apprentice Levy when it was announced and fully appreciate the need for a minimum national living wage. Yet, inevitably, these initiatives come at a price. And it seems to be one that retail workers are paying.

A survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that the equivalent number of full-time jobs (FTE) in retail fell by 3.3% compared with the same quarter a year ago. What’s more, 69% of respondents reported a reduction in hours in this quarter compared to 2016.

In an industry that employs nearly 3million people, these findings are not insignificant. And it can’t have been helped by rising costs associated with inflation and a weaker Stirling – all factors that only help exacerbate the situation.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the BRC said, ““The second quarter of 2017 saw employment in retail fall as the tide of change continues to sweep through the industry. Technology, which is both transforming the way we shop and providing increasing opportunities for automation in retail, combined with a difficult market environment and policies that have increased the cost of employing people, such as the National Living Wage and the Apprenticeship Levy, are driving the industry towards fewer but more productive jobs.

"The pace of consolidation in the retail workforce has slowed this quarter compared to last. However, there are further reductions to come. The transformation of the industry is still in progress and this quarters’ data show that more retailers are intending to reduce their workforce in the coming months than at the same point last year.

"As ever, there are some retailers who are thriving and growing their workforce, although they are in the minority. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents to our survey saw employees work fewer hours in Q2 this year, compared to last, with reductions particularly acute amongst non-food retailers.

"With consumers seeing inflation squeezing their spending power, the challenges facing retailers will only increase in coming months; reinforcing the pressure on retailers to rethink and restructure their workforce.”

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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