Alongside the negative impact of two of the government’s flagship policies, the BRC noted the rate of change within the retail workforce was set to quicken, as the digital revolution reshapes the industry, more property leases come up for renewal and the cost of labour goes up, while the cost of technology goes down.
But jobs remaining in the sector will be “more productive and higher earning”, according to the BRC report, published today (February 29).
BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said the report’s conclusions were unsurprising. “There will be a further contraction in retail space and a reduction in the number of people employed in retail,” she said.
‘Find their own paths to 2020’
“Individual retailers will find their own paths to 2020 and beyond but from an industry perspective, we hope to see technology and competition resulting in better experiences for the customer and better jobs for those working in retail.”
Meanwhile, some of Britain’s top retailers continue to invest in food manufacturing capacity, as they battle the hard discounters Aldi and Lidl.
Morrisons pledged to use its food manufacturing capacity to help bring down customers prices throughout its stores nationwide.
Also, last month Asda announced it had acquired full control of two meats firms – Kober and Forza AW – in which it previously had an interest.
900k retail job losses
Partly to blame:
- National Living Wage
- New apprenticeship levy
The BRC boss said the report offered the government more significant insights in the impact of changes in the retail landscape and how the organisation could work with the government to mitigate its impact.
‘Work with government’
“We would like to work with government to manage the impact of the changes on the most vulnerable,” she said.
Waitrose boss and chairman of the BRC and John Lewis Partnership, Sir Charlie Mayfield, said: “What matters is who and where will be affected most by all this change. These are the valleys to cross and the path through them needs to be chartered with care.”
The report reached some positive conclusions, he said. “Customers will get better choice, better value, more convenience and more personalisation.
“Retailing will be more productive, powered by better jobs that offer the chance to develop a wide array of skills and greater earnings. Not because of the National Living Wage, but because differentiation between competing retailers will depend on it.”
Read more about the report here.