Retail means far more than just shelf-stacking

The retail industry employs 100,000 people in roles that did not exist five years ago as fierce competition forces it to evolve.

According to a report by the British Retail Consortium, although the overall numbers of employees in retail were expected to fall in the coming years, “innovative ways of working will also create tens of thousands of new types of jobs”, such as digital art workers, online merchandisers and personal stylists, akin to Rebecca Corbin-Murray, stylist to Lily James, the actress.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, which lobbies on behalf of the retail sector, said: “Retailers have always been quick to adapt to the changing competitive environment, but the fact that over the coming five years they will create more jobs in new roles than Google employs worldwide shows just what fantastic opportunities retail offers in all kinds of roles.”

She added that although retail jobs had once been “stigmatised as just shelf-stacking”, the industry was now a leader in offering opportunities in app development, microbiology and events planning, among other emerging areas. Data from BRC members indicate that more than 3 per cent of retail employees were occupied in roles that did not exist half a decade ago.

The report, The Journey to Better Jobs, is the third in the BRC’s “Retail 2020” series examining the way in which jobs in the sector are changing amid increasing costs and competition. It said in February that nearly a million retail jobs could be lost by 2025 as shops close and businesses struggle to meet higher wage bills and taxes.