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December 15, 2021updated 24 Dec 2021 7:21am

ONS data shows fall in number of UK retail jobs in third quarter

Retail jobs are expected to increase in the fourth quarter as the industry prepares for the Christmas season.

The number of employees in the UK’s retail workforce decreased in the third quarter (Q3) of this year, according to data from the country’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were 3.01 million people employed in retail in the UK in the quarter, 22,000 fewer than in the same period of last year.

Of these workers, 2.8 million were employed by established companies, while the remaining 210,000 were self-employed.

The ONS data does not include those working in the retail trade of motor vehicles and motorcycles.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The fall in jobs reflects the decline in staffing at large city-centre retailers, who cut back in response to lower shopper numbers during the pandemic.

“Nonetheless, there are still new retail roles being created in areas such as logistics and online fulfilment, not all of which are captured under the ONS retail job figures.”

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Around 97,000 workers were receiving their income from the UK Government’s furlough scheme during Q3.

In the fourth quarter, more retail jobs are expected to be added as the industry increases its activity to match customer expectations during the Christmas period.

Dickinson added: “However, these efforts are being challenged by labour shortages of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and warehouse workers.

“Only the gargantuan effort being made by people working in retail and its supply chains is ensuring a successful and festive Christmas for families all over the UK.

“Retailers continue to invest in their workforce, but the government must redouble its efforts in the new year to find a more flexible, demand-led immigration system and broader usage opportunities for the Apprenticeship Levy to ensure the industry continues delivering on its mission of a higher skilled, more productive and better-paid workforce.”

In April, data from the Centre for Retail Research showed that almost 190,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK between the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown on 23 March last year and 31 March this year.