Responding to the latest ONS jobs figures, which show 3.026m jobs in retail, down 22K year-on-year, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“Despite strong job creation in parts of the industry where demand remained high, including supermarkets and online retail, the pandemic forced retail job numbers to their lowest number in over nine years. The Government’s furlough scheme had been effective in preventing job losses in the previous quarter, but the industry still shed 78K jobs between June and September this year. We expect these will losses were focused on areas which were suffering the most from the pandemic, such as fashion stores and city centre shopping.

“The future remains bleak. The pandemic has already seen multiple retailers fall by the wayside, costing shops and jobs, and retailers face further costs in 2021 from both Brexit and the return to full business rates. The combined impact of Covid, Brexit and business rates is likely to significantly impact retail employment in the future. Retail employs three million people, and even small percentage changes in employment can translate into hundreds of thousands of jobs. The Government should look to provide continued targeted support to those firms most heavily impacted by the pandemic. By supporting retailers in their return to full health, the industry will be better positioned to bolster the country’s economic recovery.”