The British Retail Consortium has published very promising figures on employment.
In the third quarter of 2010, retail full-time equivalent (FTE) employment was up by 2.1%, compared with the same quarter a year earlier. This is equivalent to a net increase of 12,746 retail jobs. The increase in employment was driven by a 4.2% net increase in the number of stores in the three months to September, compared with the same period last year - an additional 652 retail outlets.
And plans going forward look equally promising. The BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor (REM) shows 61% of retailers in the sample intend to increase staffing levels in the next three months, compared with 54% this time last year. It indicates a noticeable improvement in sentiment over the last 12 months.
Also 39% of the sample indicated that they would keep staffing levels unchanged compared with 38% in the third quarter of 2009. There were no retailers in sample suggesting that they were planning to reduce staffing levels in the next three months, whereas, last year 8% of retailers said that they were planning to reduce staff levels.
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said, "British retail is the engine room of economic recovery. This is the tenth consecutive month of retail employment growth, which is an impressive effort in tough trading conditions.
"In the last quarter, retailers in our Monitor have managed to deliver 652 new stores and created an extra 12,750 jobs. At a time of economic uncertainty, and with half-a-million public jobs due to be lost by 2014, this is up-to-the-minute evidence that retailers are continuing to invest in new premises and people.
"The recovery remains fragile and continuing growth should not be taken for granted. Rightly, the Government has shown resolve with the public spending cuts part of its plan for the country. It must be equally committed to promoting the private sector-led growth it knows is needed."
Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, said, "Coming in the same week as the second major GDP growth surprise in a row, the results of our latest Monitor again demonstrate the vital role that the retail sector is playing in driving economic recovery.
"Retailers are now steeling themselves to withstand and absorb the cuts to the public sector and the next two quarters will severely test that resolve. As the cuts bed in, and with a rise in VAT on the horizon, the impact on consumer confidence remains to be seen - however retailers remain upbeat and positive in the lead up to Christmas."
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