Morrisons Employees

Low-income employees aged 26 to 45 will be hit hardest by cuts to retail jobs, the British Retail Consortium has forecast.

The retail body identified a “middle core” of 465,000 workers whose jobs were most under threat in its report ‘Retail 2020: What our people think’, out this week.

The middle core of employees were more likely to receive tax credits than other retail workers and more likely to work in retail because they could not find employment anywhere else, the BRC reported. Seventy per cent of this group were women.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson also told The Grocer that the food sector could be disproportionately affected by the forecast job losses. Many of the roles in food could be further automated, she pointed out, adding that grocers were also seeing their margins squeezed by food deflation, which was “quite likely” to put further pressure on jobs.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of both the BRC and John Lewis, agreed deflation was a “particular” challenge for the grocery sector. “If T-shirts get cheaper, people do tend to buy more of them but food you only buy as much as you eat,” he said. But Mayfield said retailers could use the challenges as an “opportunity” to reassess their workforce. Although there would be fewer jobs in retail, they would be more rewarding and involve a greater level of responsibility. “I really believe jobs in retail will get better,” he stressed.

The report comes a year after the BRC warned there could be up to 900,000 fewer jobs in retail by 2025, partly through government measures such as the national living wage and apprenticeship levy.