Retail staff vacancies fall sharply in July, KPMG and REC report


The Report on Jobs, published today by KPMG and the REC, indicated falling demand for both permanent and temporary retail staff in July.

The number of vacancies for permanent retail staff across the UK fell at a substantial pace in July. At 39.8, the respective index was down from 43.9 in June to the second-lowest in the over two-year series history (the lowest recorded was 38.4 in April this year). Furthermore, the sector recorded the sharpest decline out of all monitored jobs categories, especially when compared with the solid increase in demand for permanent staff across the UK as a whole (54.7).

Vacancies for temporary retail workers also dropped during July, extending the current sequence of decline to six months. The rate of decrease was softer than in June, with the respective index up from 43.4 to 44.6 in July. In addition, this placed retail at the bottom of the sector league table. Meanwhile, at the national level, temporary staff demand rose at the softest rate in seven years (53.3).

Commenting on the findings, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Employment prospects in retail naturally go hand-in-hand with the health of the sector more broadly, but as has widely been reported, it’s faced considerable turmoil for a prolonged period of time now. Indeed, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor pointed to record low growth of retail sales in May, June and July this year, and when coupled with ever rising costs, overheads including headcount have understandably required a rethink.

“The latest permanent and temporary jobs numbers make for rather sobering reading, especially given that retail is a key provider of employment across the UK. KPMG recently discovered that twice as many people working in retail did so because the role was local, rather than being attracted to the position out of genuine interest, so there are very local consequences to this slowdown. Having said that, an important role in stimulating retail demand will be people working in the sector. As retail undergoes its structural changes and reinvention, we will see high demand for skills that can help it advance. From exemplar customer experience professionals to digital savvy data analysts, more needs to be done to attract the next wave of talent into this much-loved industry.”