Aug 26, 2020
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UK retail jobs down sharply, sales also fall says CBI survey for August

Aug 26, 2020

UK retail jobs are being lost at the fastest rate since the global financial crisis in 2009, the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trades Survey has found. 

Retail jobs are falling and sales are down, the CBI said - Photo: Public domain

It said job losses in the 12 months to August were accelerated by this year’s pandemic, adding to the long-term trend of contracting physical retail jobs.

Employment among the companies surveyed showed the employment balance at -45 in the 12 months, worse than the -20 drop in the year to May. A faster fall is expected in the quarter ahead with -52 predicted. But it's worth noting that this is a narrower survey than some others.

Retail sales themselves may be recovering, according to official figures released by the Office for Nation Statistics, but this is clearly not helping the jobs market with the CBI report showing the highest rate of job losses since the period ending February 2009. 

The survey – which featured 63 retailers among its 128 respondents – also showed a fall in retail sales year-on-year, while a faster fall is expected next month. August sales among those retailers were down 6% compared to a 4% rise in July. A 17% drop is expected in September.

But internet sales grew 46% in August at a pace broadly in line with the long-run average (+45%), with a similar rise expected next month (+48%).

The month’s overall decline was broad-based across sectors, with only grocers, furniture/carpets, online and ‘other’ goods sales seeing growth.

A special question asked this month found retail sales were, on average, 27% lower than in ‘normal’ conditions, although this represented a significant improvement on the last time this question was asked in June (-79%).

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