900,000 fewer retail jobs within the next decade, warns report
There could be 900,000 fewer jobs in retail within the next decade as the effects of the national living wage and digital advances are felt, a report has warned.
Shop closures will have a varying effect across the country and impact already-vulnerable areas the most, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.
While the pace of change could mean thousands of job losses by 2025, those that remain will be "more productive and higher earning", the BRC said in its report entitled Retail 2020 Fewer But Better Jobs.
The retail industry is being reshaped by the digital revolution, the BRC said, as it described how 15% of sales are now made online and there are around 40,000 fewer shops now than there were 10 years ago.
The introduction of the national living wage will cost the industry up to an extra £3 billion each year by 2020, the report predicted, although it added that retailers are generally supportive of the principle behind it.
Other costs are likely to come from business rates increases and the apprenticeship levy which is due to be introduced next April, the BRC said.
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Employees who find it difficult to transition to newly created roles are likely to be most affected by changes, it said, and called on the Government to work with retailers to ensure the posts that remain are more productive and better-paid.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "As an industry we expect the years ahead will see accelerating change.
"Retailers will develop better propositions and compete harder across an increasing range of business models from modern multi-channel formats through to discounters and online businesses.
"Recent policy announcements, in particular the national living wage and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, will increase the pace of some of these changes."
The BRC is due to release two further reports - one on what retail workers think, and another on how the industry can meet challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.