KPMG: sharp increase in demand for retail workers in December 2018


The Report on Jobs, published today by KPMG and the REC, showed that the number of permanent and temporary retail vacancies rose markedly at the end of 2018

Latest survey data indicated that demand for permanent retail staff rose at the quickest pace for just over one year in December. At 58.8, the respective index was up from 53.8 in November and pointed to a sharp increase in vacancies. That said, growth of demand was slightly less marked than seen on average for permanent workers across the UK (index at 60.1). Overall, retail placed sixth out of ten in the sector rankings for permanent staff vacancies.

Growth of demand for short-term retail workers remained sharp in December. Notably, the index measuring temp retail vacancies held close to November’s four-month high (60.5) at 60.3. Furthermore, the increase was slightly stronger than that seen on average for temporary staff across the UK (60.1). Of the ten monitored job categories, retail ranked in fourth place.

Commenting on the latest findings and the retail jobs market specifically, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “It’s unsurprising that retail has noted a significant uptick in vacancies during the festive period. This year however, that may have proved to be the wrong assumption to make.  In anticipation of the traditional increase in demand at the end of the all-important golden quarter – when retailers can often net the considerable proportion of their annual sales in just a few weeks – it’s naturally all hands on deck.

“But, reports of footfall decline on the high street experienced this year are worrying, with considerably more activity found online by comparison to previous years. While that will have led to an influx in jobs at distribution centres, retailers have to strike a delicate balance between having the bandwidth to deal with increased demand versus keeping costs in check – especially with their margins being as thin as they are currently.

“The increase in permanent positions could well say more about the difficulties the industry faces in attracting talent. It will be hard for candidates to see a fruitful career in an industry undergoing such significant upheaval. Meanwhile, the uptick in temporary positions reinforces the need for retailers to be more adaptive, especially as they go about navigating the unwelcome peaks and troughs and general volatility of sales activity.”