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Retail jobs have fallen in the past quarter amid a reduction in the number of stores, new figures show. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recorded a 3% cut in the number of full time positions in the quarter to September, compared with the same time last year.

The fall coincided with a 1.2% reduction in the number of stores, including food and other outlets.

The number of jobs has fallen for three quarters in a row, and the latest figure is the biggest for six years, said the BRC.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “This is the third consecutive quarter in which full-time equivalent employment among retailers has fallen, and the decline appears to be accelerating quarter-on-quarter as they seek productivity gains in a highly competitive market.

“While both food and non-food retailers saw a fall, the decline is most marked in food. We would expect this trend to continue. While we have yet to detect any clear impact from the Brexit referendum on sales, footfall or employment in the industry, inflationary pressures are unquestionably building due to impact of the weaker pound on import costs.

“As retailers look to keep prices low for customers they are likely to re-examine staffing levels, particularly as competition intensifies and cost pressures imposed by Government continue to take their toll.

“However, retailers are also actively investing in existing staff to improve the quality of their jobs and productivity per employee.”

The BRC said employment in the retail industry was on a long-term downward trend, with fewer jobs expected in 10 years time. Wage costs and automation, coupled with the fall in the exchange rate, are among the challenges the industry faces, said the report.

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