|Half of UK high street retailers plan spring staff cuts|
|Written by Carol Emmas|
|Thursday, 24 January 2013 17:21|
Half of our high street retailers intend to cut staff numbers within the next three months, according to the British Retail Consortium.
While figures show an upturn in employment of 0.6%, driven by part-time workers in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with a year earlier, half of the retailers questioned suggested they would decrease staffing levels in the first quarter of 2013 compared with just a third across the same time period in 2012.
More bad news hit retailers as it saw the number of outlets fall by a record 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2012, the fastest rate since the BRC's Retail Sales Monitor started in October 2008.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: "The fact that total employment edged up during this quarter, driven by part-time workers, is a shaft of light against an otherwise challenging backdrop. It shows that, despite relentlessly tough times, retailers are continuing to invest in people and support job creation as much as they can.
"But the record drop in store numbers is stark evidence that this investment should not be taken for granted. We're by no means out of the woods yet – given the administrations of recent weeks, the next quarter's figures are likely to make difficult reading.
"Half of our sample intend to decrease staffing levels during the first quarter of this year and only 4% plan to increase them. This trend is to be expected at this time of year due to reductions in temporary seasonal staff, but the rate is higher compared with last year and further highlights testing times still to come.
Dickinson added one solution to help stop the decline was if the government froze business rates in April.
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, said: "Employment figures may have risen slightly last quarter, due to temporary seasonal staff, but employment intentions for the next three months reflect the stark reality, with half of retailers intending to cut staff. It is hard to believe that retail employment will remain robust for long under such pressure, but at present retail redundancy rates are still low and private sector job creation continues to outstrip public sector losses.
"With economists claiming that more companies will fail before the UK economy can begin to recover, retailers must continue to adapt to the harsh market conditions and hope their strategies for survival, and even growth, will stand them in good stead."