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Almost 60,000 retail jobs were lost last year

Around 57,000 retail jobs were lost last year, according to a new report.

The British Retail Consortium blamed the continuing transformation of the industry along with other issues such as the uncertainty brought about by Brexit and the election.

Employment in the sector fell for the 16th consecutive quarter during the final few months of 2019, with more losses among full-time workers than part-time workers.

The report also revealed that almost two out of every five employers in retail are planning to hire fewer staff in the coming months.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “There were many challenges in 2019 – businesses had to contend with the repeated risk of no-deal Brexit, a general election and the ongoing transformation of the industry, leading to weak consumer demand.


“As a result, employment has suffered in retail, the UK’s largest private sector employer.

“Retailers may be investing heavily in their workers, through training and apprenticeships, but more could be done.

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“The current inflexibility in the apprenticeship levy system means that much essential training is not covered, limiting the opportunities for many working in the industry.

“Moreover, it is worrying that the government is standing by while tens of thousands of jobs are being lost.

“If the same was true in manufacturing or aviation, one can be sure that the government would act.

“There are opportunities for action and the government’s review of business rates could not come at a more crucial time.

“It is essential that they reform this broken system and rectify a tax that sees retail, which accounts for 5% of the economy, pay 25% of the burden.”

A government spokesman said: “We recognise retail has had a challenging year and continue to work with the sector to identify pressures and steps to address them.

“This includes the delivery of the £1bn Future High Streets Fund to support local areas in England to renew high streets and our review into business rates, as well as cutting business rates for small retailers by a third this year.”


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