The latest numbers from Textkernel’s Jobfeed tool show that the UK retail industry saw a decline in the retail workforce in Q3 of 2021, with 129,000 fewer jobs than the same time in 2020.
Understandably, given that the pandemic shut down many stores and prevented foot-traffic, the development in the UK retail industry has consistently lagged behind the development of the UK’s total employment figures, as the graph above shows. (Note as well that over the course of the pandemic UK consumers have tended to spend more money on expensive, one-off purchases, including travel and leisure goods (The Guardian, 2022)).
High demand for new personnel in the UK retail sector
Nevertheless, the demand for new personnel in the UK retail sector remains very high. In the fourth quarter of 2021, there were 355,000 retail job openings, an increase of 90% compared to the same quarter last year. Furthermore, 10% of all job postings in the UK are for retail positions.
One important insight from the data is that the retail industry in the UK is currently experiencing a high level of turn-over, as employment rates decrease while the number of job postings is increasing quickly. Quit rates were highest heading into the holiday season, with over 720,000 retail workers quitting their
jobs in August (Charged Retail, 2021), though workers continue to leave the sector, with a recent survey suggesting that 28% of all retail employees in the UK want to quit their jobs (InsightDIY, 2022).