The total number of jobs rose – boosted by full-time positions mirrored by trend in the overall economy, the latest BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor finds.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, the number of outlets rose by 2.0%, driven entirely by food retailers. The uptake of full-time employees rose at the fastest rate in 18 months suggesting improvements in confidence, said researchers.
Retail employment rose by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared with a year earlier.
Employment intentions for next quarter
The BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor (REM) indicates 54% of the sample intends to decrease staffing levels post-Christmas – indicative of normal seasonal adjustments. This is marginally up on last year when 50% of the sample indicated they intended to reduce staffing levels.
Consistent with levels last year, 4% of the sample indicated that they would increase staffing levels while 42% intend to keep staffing levels unchanged in the coming quarter.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: “There were more people working in retail in December than any other month last year. And it is encouraging to see that again there was an increase in people in full time employment, demonstrating that confidence is rising, and an increase in the number of shops.
“Retail offers a great career option with excellent progression and fantastic opportunities. Our survey shows that 42% of temporary contracts over the festive period went to people aged under 21. Many of those will end up being extended into the new year as people start a new and rewarding career in the industry.
“In comparison to the same quarter in December 2012, there was a very small increase in total employment. We saw growth in non-food retail hours worked, and a slight falling back in food.”
Tolvas-Vincent, head of retail employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson, said: “The fragile recovery in the wider economy is clearly at play here in the retail sector with the employment figures reflecting the cautiously optimistic Christmas most retailers experienced. There was a rise in the number of full time jobs and redundancies fell, which are important signs of improved confidence, especially as the retail industry often needs to remain flexible to cope with seasonal changes in demand.
“It was a Christmas of mixed fortunes however, and for the first time since 2008, the Monitor recorded a fall in the number of hours worked within the grocery sector, revealing the impact of a comparably muted Christmas for food retailers on overtime and additional staffing levels.
“The retail sector is crucial for young people – so it is good to see that nearly half (42%) of temporary contracts awarded over the festive period went to those under 21. Temporary roles are in demand in the sector because many people go from shop floor to top floor in retail, starting out in temporary or part-time positions and ending up in senior management or board level positions.”