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UK labour market stats say economics of retailing are changing

Rachel Lund, Head of Insights and Analytics at the British Retail Consortium analysing latest UK labour market statistics says labour market figures confirm the retail industry is undergoing significant structural change. Despite the fact that the number of jobs in retail during the festive period was higher in 2017 compared to previous year, employment was down by 73,000 compared to Christmas two years ago and by more than 1,00,000 compared to ten years ago, in the midst of the financial crisis.

The reality is the economics of retailing are changing. Over the last two years, taxes on physical stores have grown by an estimated 8 per cent and employee wages by 10 per cent at the same time as overall sales have grown by less than 3 per cent and pounds spent on non-food products in physical stores have fallen by 5 per cent.

As a result, retailers are having to radically rethink how they operate in order to survive, investing more in technology and restructuring their store portfolios and workforce. While the result will raise productivity in the industry, the transition will not be painless and will affect some communities more than others.