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Demand for retail staff falls in July: KPMG/REC

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The number of jobs available to permanent retail staff fell close to its lowest on record in July, new figures suggest. 

The Report on Jobs, carried out by IHS Markit for business advisor KPMG and the REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation) shows a significant fall in demand for these roles. The index that the two organisations use to measure demand for permanent staff in the sector fell to 39.8 in July from 43.9 in June. That’s the second lowest on record, after April 2019 when it stood at 38.4. Of all the job categories that were monitored, this was the sharpest decline. 

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG said: “Employment prospects in retail naturally go hand-in-hand with the health of the sector more broadly but as has been widely reported it’s faced considerable turmoil for a prolonged period of time now. Indeed, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor pointed to record low growth of retail sales in May, June and July this year and when coupled with ever-rising costs, overheads including headcount have understandably required a rethink.”

Demand for temporary workers was also down in July, when fewer jobs were available compared to the same time last year. However, the rate of decline in July (44.6) was softer than in June (43.4). Retail was at the bottom of the league table, compared to other sectors of the economy.

Martin said: “The latest permanent and temporary jobs numbers make for rather sobering reading, especially given that retail is a key provider of employment across the UK. KPMG recently discovered that twice as many people working in retail did so because the role was local, rather than being attracted to the position out of genuine interest, so there are very local consequences to this slowdown. Having said that, an important role in stimulating retail demand will be people working in the sector. As retail undergoes its structural changes and reinvention, we will see high demand for skills that can help it advance. From exemplar customer experience professionals to digital savvy data analysts, more needs to be done to attract the next wave of talent into this much-loved industry.”

A KPMG poll carried out in April 2019 questioned 600 people about their attitudes to work. Of the 124 retail workers who took part, 35.5% said the attraction to their job lay in the fact that it was local, while 17.7% said they were mainly just interested in the role. 

The full Report on Jobs is available on subscription by contacting

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