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Applications for food and drink sector retail double between 2010 and 2011, as vacancy numbers shrink

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The number of supermarket and food retailer roles available has not followed a steady pattern since the start of the recession in 2008.

After a huge fall of more than 60% between 2008 and 2009, things began to look up with some growth in 2010, however this fell back again in 2011.

But according to RetailChoice.com, from a peak of about 9,000 jobs advertised in 2008, 2011 had just over half the amount at 5,500. Although the number of roles advertised has been on somewhat of a roller coaster one thing that has consistently grown is the number of applications per role.

Between 2010 and 2011 this doubled to an average of 25.4 applications per advert. In 2008 this number had been approximately six per position available. National publicity around the recruitment drives of some of the major supermarkets such as Asda and Tesco may have led to a surge in unemployed people looking for roles in these areas, leading to the spike in competition for roles. In line with the supermarkets looking to recruit more, RetailChoice.com data revealed a 200% rise in sales assistant jobs in 2011.

In fact sales assistant's roles constituted two thirds of all the supermarket roles advertised in 2011, whereas in 2010, 45% of adverts had been for store managers.

Specialist roles also saw an increase in demand, in particular pharmacy and logistics, which both saw an increase in adverts of more than 100% in 2011. Senior head office roles also rose as supermarkets looked to strengthen their leadership teams to deal with an increasingly tough trading environment.

Salary increases were most marked in the supermarket and food sector with the advertised median annual salary standing at £34,327, 7.4% higher in 2011 than in 2008 when candidates could expect £27,457.

The 'London premium' continued to grow in 2011 with London based candidates being able to command 23%, up 10% on 2010, extra pay compared to those in other regions.