Fashion Jobs Dominate as Retail Jobs Still Feel Recession

In spite of today’s sales volume and value growth, retail recruitment, even fashion jobs which make up the bulk of retail recruitment, is trending downward. The home and DIY sectors held up strongest with advertised vacancies growing at 12 per cent according to one study. Electrical/telecoms, supermarkets and general stores all experienced significant declines. This is in spite of good news on the economic from in the UK.

Following closely on the previous half year’s data, the fashion industry continues to offer the lion’s share of opportunities for the UK’s retail workforce. Jobs in fashion, while strong, cannot on their own hearken an economic recovery due to the unique position they hold within the UK’s retail scene.

Over half of all jobs advertised on one specialist recruitment site came from the fashion sector. The supermarket, electrical and telco, health and beauty and department store sectors all saw falls by one per cent on January – June 2012 levels. While fashion may have around 50% of retail jobs, other sectors are as important to employment and economic recovery as fashion.

There was some good news for DIY and hospitality and leisure, each gaining a percentage point over the year, up to 9 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. In line with changes in the job market, some specialist retail recruitment sites were able to add three new categories in the first half of 2013: jewellery, luxury and electronic ecommerce. We’ll see how the numbers fare next year before making a full analysis however the fact that these new sectors are mainly within the luxury end of the market is positive.

With vacancy levels having fallen back to 2009 levels, down some 14 per cent on the same period last year, and a corresponding rise in applications per unique vacancy, it remains an employers market. While the wider economic indictors suggest an upturn in consumer spending and brand performance as we move into H2 2013, it is unlikely that near term demand for all but the most specialist roles will grow.

Economic factors aside, it may very well be that retail (and retail recruitment) has entered a new ‘normal’. As the data shows, changes in consumer buying behaviour and the growth of ecommerce have led to a rethink in sales strategies. This is undoubtedly impacting recruitment with fashion jobs showing some changes to the types of skills required, as well as the addition of luxury and jewellery jobs.

The move towards fewer, smaller, more connected and experience driven stores is imposing natural limits on the numbers of retail roles on the high street. Similarly, demand for specialists is growing: whether (online) marketers, highly trained customer ambassadors or ecommerce customer services personnel. This trend is likely to gather pace – at the expense of more general store assistants, managers and physical back office support staff.

Fashion vacancies continue to dominate, as they have for some time and in addition to that stability, a breakdown of candidate opportunities by region upholds the status quo in other retail employment areas. While not a completely negative picture based on the wider numbers within the retail sector, negative trends mean that a recovery still seems far off.


The retail recruitment outlook is improving so if you’re looking for fashion jobs, RetailChoice continues to add new jobs daily with varying skills and salary levels.