The equivalent number of full time jobs fell by 3.0 per cent compared with the same quarter a year earlier and broadly in line with the fall in the previous quarter. Food retailers drove the decline in full time equivalent (FTE) employment, as the number of full-time FTE hours fell sharply.
In the fourth quarter of 2016, the number of outlets increased by 1.5 per cent compared with the same quarter a year ago. Non-Food retailers drove the overall increase in the number of stores.
All three months of the quarter reported a decline in FTE employment. October saw a 1.6 per cent decline in FTE employment, the shallowest of the quarter.
The decline in full-time equivalent employment in November was 2.9 per cent compared with the same month a year earlier.
December saw a sharp decline in FTE employment falling 4.6 per cent compared with the same month a year ago.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "While the end of the year remains the busiest time for workers in retail, today’s figures are consistent with the long-term trend of retailers reducing the number of hours being worked to adjust to big structural changes in the industry. In the last quarter, seasonal overtime was scaled back much more than in previous years, reflecting the relative fall in importance of Boxing Day relative to pre-Christmas spend and Black Friday. We also saw some retailers reduce temporary seasonal staffing levels earlier than in previous years.
"Those at the forefront of the industry are continuing to adapt to the advance of the digital revolution by experimenting with new stores and offerings, driving a 1.5 per cent increase in the number of outlets compared to a year ago. However, we don’t expect to see a long-term trend in rising store numbers.
"Against the backdrop of cost pressures, fierce competition between retailers, evolving customer needs, and the lightning expansion of digital technology, many retailers are likely to continue re-examining staffing levels to continue adapting."
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