Mar 23, 2021
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More retail jobs lost in latest Covid wave

Mar 23, 2021

The second Covid wave hit UK retail jobs hard at the end of last year. Numbers fell by 67,000 in the final three months of 2020, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

Photo: Jamie Musialek/Pixabay

As a host of retailers collapsed into administration, with Arcadia and Debenhams the most high profile, job totals in retail fell to 3.097 million, the lowest level since 1999. The overall number comprises 2.889 million employed jobs in retail, and 208,000 self-employed jobs.

And with five million UK workers still furloughed, many of them employed in retail, more job losses are expected as the country returns to operate under more normal conditions in the months ahead.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “While the second wave of the pandemic swept away tens of thousands of retail jobs, many more were saved by the government’s furlough scheme, which is now providing support for 600,000 retail workers, a rise of 200,000 since December. 

“This is likely to get worse if the third lockdown wears on, and while new jobs were created, focused in grocery and driving online capacity across the market, as well as many temporary jobs in the run up to Christmas, town and city centre stores continue to employ fewer and fewer people”. 

She added: “Now is the time to rebuild the economy. Retail remains the largest private sector employer in the UK, meaning the strength of the industry remains important for the economy at large. The biggest threat to jobs and shops will be future lockdowns beyond 12 April, and it is imperative the government takes all necessary precautions to prevent that from happening.

"Any delays to the prime minister’s roadmap will undoubtedly result in more store closures and threaten the livelihoods of the retail workers currently furloughed. Retailers are working incredibly hard to ensure stores and operations are safe and ready for reopening, and it is essential that all retail is open and remains open, if it is to unlock the demand which will kickstart our economic recovery”.

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