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Britain's retail jobs saw workers axed at the fastest pace since 2009

Britain’s retail jobs bloodbath saw workers axed at the fastest pace since 2009 during the financial crisis but the worst is yet to come, says report

  • Britain’s retailers have cut jobs at fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2009
  • Survey by Confederation of British Industry looked at the employment balance
  • It comes amid  fears of mass unemployment when the furlough scheme ends

Britain’s retailers have cut jobs at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2009 and could see yet more job losses in the coming months, a report has revealed.

A survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found the employment balance, which measures the number of retailers laying off and hiring staff over the past year, had dropped to minus 45 per cent in August from minus 20 per cent in May.

The figures, which are the lowest level the country has seen since February 2009, also revealed an unexpected slump in retail sales in August with its balance falling to minus 6 per cent from 4 per cent in July. 

The findings come after it was revealed the retail bloodbath has claimed or put under threat at least 41,391 UK jobs since the lockdown was introduced in late March.   

It also comes amid mounting warnings of mass unemployment when the Government’s worker furlough scheme comes to an end in October. 

Britain’s retailers have cut jobs at the fastest rate since the financial crisis, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has found. (Stock image)

This month Marks & Spencer today announced it would axe 7,000 jobs amid the coronavirus crisis

The retails giant John Lewis also announced  1,300 roles would be affected as eight retail sites were shut down

The retail sector is among those which have leaned heavily on the scheme since lockdown forced vast swathes of the high street to shut.

Non-essential shops have been able to re-open since June, but many retailers have had to close shops and cut staff as shoppers continue to shun the high street. 

Marks & Spencer added to the pain in the retail sector, announcing 7,000 job losses last week.

The London-based retail giant revealed the bulk of the cuts would be made across its stores, hitting around 12 per cent of its 60,000 shop-based staff, as well as a smaller number of support centre and regional management workers.

M&S, which employs 85,000 people worldwide, said it expected a ‘significant’ number of roles would be cut through voluntary departures and early retirement.

Alpesh Paleja, lead economist at the CBI, said: ‘The furlough scheme has proved effective at insulating workers and businesses in some of the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic, but these findings reinforce fears that many job losses have been delayed rather than avoided.’

He added: ‘Trading conditions for the retail sector remain tough, even against the backdrop of business slowly returning.

‘Firms will be wary of deteriorating household incomes and the risk of further local lockdowns potentially hitting them in the pocket for a second time.’ 

The survey also found that retailers polled for the report expect job losses to fall further, with a balance of minus 52 per cent for the next quarter. 

Earlier this year administrators of Oasis and Warehouse blamed coronavirus for the woes of High Street chains

This month it was revealed Debenhams was set to axe 2,500 jobs across its stores and warehouses

They also showed that retailers expect sales to fall further in September, with a balance of minus 17 per cent.

But official figures offered some good news for the embattled retail sector last week, revealing total retail sales volumes in July rose 3.6 per cent compared with June and are now 3 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.

More than 187,000 people across a range of industries now face redundancy, or have already been laid off, in recent months as the pandemic puts a huge dent in the nation’s economy. 

This month it was revealed that Debenhams was set to axe 2,500 jobs across its stores and warehouses in an attempt to cut costs after sales plummeted during the coronavirus lockdown.

Around 6% of the Britain’s workforce switched jobs in the three months after the pandemic hit, new figures show

Around six per cent of the UK working population changed occupations in the three months after the pandemic hit, government figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 6.1 per cent of workers changed to a new occupation in the period from April to June, against the previous quarter.

Statisticians said that most people who changed jobs in the quarter after the pandemic hit also changed their industry, as large parts of the economy shut down temporarily.

The figures revealed that the proportion of people switching occupation was slightly ahead of the same period last year, when 5.7 per cent of people changed roles.

The ONS said the ‘limited’ rise in occupational changes is ‘likely to reflect the effect of the Government’s job retention schemes’.

In the report, the ONS said: ‘Occupational switching might therefore become more prevalent as employment support unwinds.

‘As the picture continues to develop, it will be possible to further understand how occupational movements have affected the labour market.’

The new figures revealed that 52.5 per cent of workers changing occupations also altered their main industry, switching to roles in completely different sectors.

It said that associate professional and technical roles – which include a raft of scientific, teaching and administrative jobs – saw the greatest increase, with 21.2 per cent of people who changed occupations moving into this area.

Earlier this month, the ONS also said that around 730,000 UK workers have been removed from the payrolls of British companies since March when the coronavirus lockdown began. 

It was also revealed that around 14,000 jobs could also be on the brink at Debenhams, with plans to liquidate the business being drawn up in case other options for saving the company – such as selling it – fall through.

The department store is scrapping the roles of sales manager, visual merchandise manager and selling support manager as part of a management restructuring process.

The move, which was first reported by RetailWeek, comes four months after Debenhams collapsed into administration.  

Meanwhile it was reported that 1,300 jobs at the British retail giant John Lewis had been affected this month after eight retail sites announced in July they were at risk of closure.

The retailer said the affected stores were ‘already financially challenged prior to the pandemic and a number of contributing factors, including the shift towards online shopping which Covid-19 has accelerated, meant these shops would not be commercially viable in the future’.   

In a statement, the business said: ‘This is a very sad occasion and one we never thought was imaginable when we first opened these shops.

‘Our expectation was that we would trade in these locations for many years to come, but they were financially challenged before the pandemic and we have not been able to find a way that would allow us to turn that around.

‘We are grateful to those who have expressed their support since announcing the proposed closure last month, and for the incredible professionalism our partners have shown – they remain our absolute priority and will be fully supported over the coming weeks.’

Earlier this year more than 1,800 jobs were lost at Oasis and Warehouse after administrators said they were unable to rescue the company behind the brands.  

In a statement the Joint administrator at Deloitte, Rob Harding, blamed coronavirus for the stores’ demise and said: ‘Covid-19 has presented extraordinary challenges which have devastated the retail industry.

‘It is with great sadness that we have to announce a sale of the business has not been possible and that we are announcing so many redundancies today.’

It comes as the Office for National Statistics said 730,000 people have been taken off payrolls since the beginning of the crisis in March, and predicted some 6.5 million jobs in total will go in the UK because of the disaster. 

Government figures also reveal 6.1 cent of the UK working population have changed occupations in the three months after the pandemic hit. 

Statisticians said that most people who changed jobs in the quarter after the pandemic hit also changed their industry, as large parts of the economy shut down temporarily. 

The Government’s furlough scheme for workers comes to an end in October and while it has launched the back to work bonus, offering firms £1,000 for every furloughed staff member a business retains, there are fears there will still be thousands more retail jobs axed.     

How more than 187,000 jobs have now been lost or are at risk amid the coronavirus pandemic 

The Co-operative Bank has become the latest employer to cut large numbers of jobs, saying it plans to cut around 350 jobs.

It follows cuts of around 7,000 roles announced by retail giant M&S last week, with mass redundancies also on the horizon at the likes of John Lewis, sushi chain Yo! and clothing store River Island. 

And around 14,000 jobs could be on the brink at struggling department store Debenhams, with plans to liquidate the business being drawn up in case other options for saving the company – such as selling it – fall through. 

Here are the major potential job losses announced since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed on March 23:

Total: 187,719

  • August 25 – Co-operative bank – 350 
  • August 20 – Alexander Dennis – 650 
  • August 18 –  Bombardier – 95
  • August 18 – M&S – 7,000
  • August 17: easyJet: 670 
  • August 17: Jet2: 102 
  • August 16: Debenhams: 14,000 at risk 
  • August 14 – John Lewis – 399 at risk 
  • August 14 – Yo! Sushi – 250
  • August 14 – River Island – 350
  • August 12 – NatWest – 550
  • August 11 – InterContinental Hotels – 650 worldwide
  • August 11 – Debenhams – 2,500
  • August 7 – Evening Standard – 115
  • August 6 – Travelex – 1,300
  • August 6 – Wetherspoons – 110 to 130
  • August 5 – M&Co – 380
  • August 5 – Arsenal FC – 55
  • August 5 – WH Smith – 1,500
  • August 4 – Dixons Carphone – 800
  • August 4 – Pizza Express – 1,100 at risk
  • August 3 – Hays Travel – up to 878
  • August 3 – DW Sports – 1,700 at risk
  • July 31 – Byron – 651
  • July 30 – Pendragon – 1,800
  • July 29 – Waterstones – unknown number of head office roles
  • July 28 – Selfridges – 450
  • July 27 – Oak Furnitureland – 163 at risk
  • July 23 – Dyson – 600 in UK, 300 overseas
  • July 22 – Mears – fewer than 200
  • July 20 – Marks & Spencer – 950 at risk
  • July 17 – Azzurri Group (owns Zizzi and Ask Italian) – up to 1,200
  • July 16 – Genting – 1,642 at risk
  • July 16 – Burberry – 150 in UK, 350 overseas
  • July 15 – Banks Mining – 250 at risk
  • July 15 – Buzz Bingo – 573 at risk
  • July 14 – Vertu – 345
  • July 14 – DFS – up to 200 at risk
  • July 9 – General Electric – 369
  • July 9 – Eurostar – unknown number
  • July 9 – Boots – 4,000
  • July 9 – John Lewis – 1,300 at risk
  • July 9 – Burger King – 1,600 at risk
  • July 7 – Reach (owns Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers) – 550
  • July 6 – Pret a Manger – 1,000 at risk
  • July 2 – Casual Dining Group (owns Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge) – 1,909
  • July 1 – SSP (owns Upper Crust) – 5,000 at risk
  • July 1 – Arcadia (owns TopShop) – 500
  • July 1 – Harrods – 700
  • July 1 – Virgin Money – 300
  • June 30 – Airbus – 1,700
  • June 30 – TM Lewin – 600
  • June 30 – Smiths Group – ‘some job losses’
  • June 25 – Royal Mail – 2,000
  • June 24 – Jet2 – 102
  • June 24 – Swissport – 4,556
  • June 24 – Crest Nicholson – 130
  • June 23 – Shoe Zone – unknown number of jobs in head office
  • June 19 – Aer Lingus – 500
  • June 17 – HSBC – unknown number of jobs in UK, 35,000 worldwide
  • June 15 – Jaguar Land Rover – 1,100
  • June 15 – Travis Perkins – 2,500
  • June 12 – Le Pain Quotidien – 200
  • June 11 – Heathrow – at least 500
  • June 11 – Bombardier – 600
  • June 11 – Johnson Matthey – 2,500
  • June 11 – Centrica – 5,000
  • June 10 – Quiz – 93
  • June 10 – The Restaurant Group (owns Frankie and Benny’s) – 3,000
  • June 10 – Monsoon Accessorise – 545
  • June 10 – Everest Windows – 188
  • June 8 – BP – 10,000 worldwide
  • June 8 – Mulberry – 375
  • June 5 – Victoria’s Secret – 800 at risk
  • June 5 – Bentley – 1,000
  • June 4 – Aston Martin – 500
  • June 4 – Lookers – 1,500
  • May 29 – Belfast International Airport – 45
  • May 28 – Debenhams (in second announcement) – ‘hundreds’ of jobs
  • May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
  • May 26 – McLaren – 1,200
  • May 22 – Carluccio’s – 1,000
  • May 21 – Clarks – 900
  • May 20 – Rolls-Royce – 9,000
  • May 20 – Bovis Homes – unknown number
  • May 19 – Ovo Energy – 2,600
  • May 19 – Antler – 164
  • May 15 – JCB – 950 at risk
  • May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
  • May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
  • May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
  • May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
  • May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
  • April 30 – Oasis Warehouse – 1,800
  • April 29 – WPP – unknown number
  • April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
  • April 23 – Safran Seats – 400
  • April 23 – Meggitt – 1,800 worldwide
  • April 21 – Cath Kidston – 900
  • April 17 – Debenhams – 422
  • March 31 – Laura Ashley – 268
  • March 30 – BrightHouse – 2,400 at risk
  • March 27 – Chiquito – 1,500 at risk.

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