New figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown a significant decline in retail jobs over Q4 2022, as retailers continue their efforts to keep costs low.
According to the government department’s Labour Market results, there were 3.12 million jobs in UK retail as of December 2022, down 14,000 year-on-year.
Meanwhile, retail vacancies in the same period were at 92,000, 10.7 percent lower than that of 2021.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the disappointing decline could be attributed to lower consumer confidence and falling sales volumes, making retailers more cautious in hiring during the lead up to Christmas.
In a statement, Helen Dickinson, the organisation’s chief executive, added: “This was compounded by the need to keep operational costs – and therefore prices - down during the cost of living squeeze.
“This has contributed to the lowest 4Q average retail jobs numbers in over a decade. Not all retail roles have been affected, as ongoing digital transformation has led to the creation of many new well-paid and exciting jobs.”
Dickinson went on to note that the shift has been held back by “the inflexible Apprenticeship Levy system”, which she said had restricted the breadth of training employers could offer.
She went on to call on the chancellor Jeremy Hunt to reform the Levy in his upcoming budget, set to be published Wednesday, and urged him to push business investments towards upskilling employees and creating more apprenticeship opportunities.
Dickinson continued: “With Levy reform, retailers can equip themselves with a workforce with skills fit for the future, leading to better wages, increased productivity, and stronger economic growth.”