News Retailer Confidence At A Three Year Low

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Retailer confidence ‘at a three-year low’
1st November 2019

By Karen Pickwick

Half (50.8%) of retailers are feeling ‘anxious’, which is significantly higher than in 2018, according to the British Independent Retailers Association’s business confidence barometer.

Bira’s annual Wages Survey also revealed that the number of retailers feeling very confident showed a decline, too, with only 7.1% feeling ‘very confident’, which is down on both 2018 and 2017 (8.28% and 12.5%).

The survey is an annual questionnaire of Bira’s membership to gauge how employment costs are affecting their businesses and also to see how confident they are about the future.

Despite the lack of confidence, retailers have been able to increase the number of full-time staff they are employing, with 76.2% of respondents currently employing full-time staff, which is a big improvement on last year (53.46%).

GOOD SIGNS

Wages are also showing some good signs, with the full-time hourly staff rates at an average of £8.53 per hour, 32p above the current National Living Wage of £8.21. Retailers said, however, that the low basic salary had impacted their ability to attract the right staff.

One of the biggest signs that confidence among retailers was low was the fact that only 17.3% of respondents said they were currently recruiting. This could possibly be explained by the increase in retailers being able to support flexible working and, therefore, more staff are able to be retained. 82.6% of retailers said they were able to accommodate all flexible working requests from staff and 64.3% were also able to offer a pay rise this year, another way to retain staff.

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “Despite the current doom and gloom about retail job losses, the retail industry is still one of the largest employers in the UK, employing three million people.

“It is many young people’s first step into working life and it can form a life-long, exciting career for many. The Government needs to work with retailers to ensure that this industry is still considered to be a worthy career choice, helping businesses to employ the best people.”

Bira is the parent group of trade body the Pet Product Retail Association.