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UK retailers likely to slash 900,000 jobs by 2025
Mar '16
Employment in Britain's retail sector has declined since 2008 but the incidence of low pay has been rising in retail for several years, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said in a report.

According to the report titled 'Retail 2020 - Fewer But Better Jobs', 900,000 could be slashed in retail by 2025 but those that remain will be more productive and higher earning.

Cost pressures have increased markedly at a time when growth in consumer expenditure has been subdued, the report said.

The rate of change within the workforce is now set to quicken as the digital revolution reshapes the industry, assisted by many more leases being up for renewal and accelerated by the diverging costs of labour versus technology. It said that while the retail industry is supportive in principle of the National Living Wage, the effects on employment have been underestimated.

The combined effects could mean the loss of 900,000 fewer jobs in retail by 2025.

However, the effects will be uneven across the country and in how they impact on different sizes of business and groups of people within the industry.

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.

Retailers will work both individually and collectively to improve productivity and the customer offerings, and we would like to work with Government both to ensure the successful implementation of policy and to mitigate the impact of the changes we expect to see in places and on people who may be most vulnerable

There are three areas where this should happen. The first is to rebalance the burden of taxation. Second is to ensure the remit of the Low Pay Commission is strengthened and clarified with regard to the National Living Wage. Thirdly, there must be greater employer leadership of the apprenticeship levy including more discretion for employers over how and where it is spent.

The report concluded that the retail industry in the UK has evolved more effectively than in most other advanced economies, with the result that the UK is one of the most competitive markets in the world and a leader in ecommerce.

It said that the rate of change is now set to quicken that will result in improvements in the quality and variety of the offer to customers, continuing competitiveness in pricing, and greater productivity from fewer but better jobs. These changes are already obvious and they are being driven predominantly by changing customer behaviour and increasing competitive capability. However there are downsides, in the impact on employment and in particular on where that will be felt most, for people, places and size of businesses.

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