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Applications increase by 200% for 50% fewer jobs in the retail sector since 2008


There has been a 200% increase in the number of applications for 50% less retail jobs in the UK, over the last four years according to specialist retail recruiter RetailChoice.com.

Drawing on a study of 77,088 job advertisements published before and throughout the recession, the findings illustrate the "enormous" impact that the weak economy has had on a sector that represents 10% of the total UK jobs market and employs around 2.6 million people.

As the economic downturn has continued to hold the UK in its grip the number of jobs being advertised has fallen dramatically. In 2008 there were just over 110,000 jobs advertised on RetailChoice.com, by 2009 this had halved to around 55,000. In 2011 this had only recovered to around 75,000, more than a quarter less than in the first year of the downturn.

The news comes as retailer Clinton Cards announced it was going into administration, putting 4,000 jobs at risk.

The survey also revealed a sharp decline in advertised roles has been mirrored by the tripling of applications per job.

In 2007 an average of six applications were received for each advert, in 2009 this rocketed to an average of 23 applicants for each job. By 2011 this had fallen slightly, to an average of 19 applicants per role. With national employment figures continuing to make for depressing reading it is to be expected that competition for available roles will remain high.

Neil Brodie, commercial director at RetailChoice.com, said. "With the continued economic upheaval in the Eurozone and closer to home in the UK it's unlikely that the jobs market will see a significant improvement in 2012. In fact it's likely we'll see even more competition for the roles that are available and candidates will need to find a way to stand out."

In 2011 fashion jobs were particularly badly hit with a 13% drop in adverts. With the UK's position as a global fashion leader it is unsurprising to note that the sector represents almost half of all jobs advertised through RetailChoice.com. With the sector's inseparable link to consumer disposable income it has been hit particularly hard as the national unemployment figures have risen. Just as the national picture saw a steep rise in unemployment in 2009 then a moderate reduction in 2010, fashion retail saw an equally steep decline in roles available in 2009 then a slight rise in availability in 2010.

With consumers increasingly turning to their smartphones or laptops to complete retail transactions there has been a significant growth in specialist technology and marketing roles. This means fashion roles related to IT, technology and design have fared much better with increases of between 15-20%, a sign of the growing importance of online retail platforms.

But wages rose by 2.3% in 2011, a fact that may offer some encouragement to job seekers. Those with specialist skills in areas such as digital, design and advertising have benefitted most with these job roles attracting as much as a 20% premium to more generalist roles such as store managers.