The Job Security of Working in Retail
Not a week goes by without deflating news about the economy. Rising inflation, growing unemployment, companies going to the wall, cuts in public spending – stories like these are all too common these days, and they signify the tough times that most of us have to face. Empty high streets and last clearance sale signs are a shockingly common sight today, and we have seen several retail names like Jessops, HMV, and most recently Republic that have had to face administration. In this economic climate, job security, especially in the retail sector has been categorically compromised.
Recent research shows that the retail sector is the biggest private sector employer in the UK, and a huge proportion of the population at around three million people work within the retail sector. One of the factors that have proved most damaging to the retail sector at large is the emerging social trend of online shopping. With growing competition from online merchants and specialists, high street stores are often unable to offer better value, choice and convenience.
This saddening trend of familiar high street names going under seems to be showing no signs of waning, and recent research by one of the UK’s foremost business recovery agencies shows that the retail sector is increasingly vulnerable and more than 100 retailers are likely to face administration in the coming months. These names have been placed on the critical watch list and are expected to follow in the footsteps of Jessops and Republic. The alarming bit is that the number of companies at critical risk is up by over 40% since the end of 2011.
Although latest fluctuations in employment figures show that there has been a slight improvement in jobs, the trend of job losses and mass redundancies within the retail sector seems to be on-going. And although employment figures seem promising in the last few months, the wider economy does not seem to be improving, pay packets are continually being squeezed, and inflation is ever increasing. These are some of the reasons to think that this promising rise in employment numbers is not really that promising after all.
Although the retail sector is the largest private employer within the UK, it seems to offer little or no job security whatsoever. As companies go under and vanish off the high streets, the people employed within those stores are being left with no choice other than to face redundancy. According to recent figures, over 9,000 people have been made redundant, and in a financially precarious situation due to the latest high street foreclosures. For most of these people, the only option is to find an alternative career, which often means investing in additional skills. Especially for those who have been in employment for a long time, starting out afresh can be an intimidating and often very stressful prospect.
Losing a job can be stressful and difficult and can have wide reaching impacts. Anxiety UK, a leading mental health charity, has recently expressed concerns that not enough is being done to help and support the rising number of people who are left with an uncertain future due to retail redundancies.