There has been a marked increase in the number of retailers planning to let staff go, according to the British Retail Consortium.
The latest figures from the BRC show that retail job creation is now growing at its slowest rate since 2009.
In the first quarter of the year, there were the equivalent of 3,400 more full-time jobs in the industry than in the same period last year, an increase of 0.5%. In addition, an extra 837 shops opened – up 5.3%.
However, comparing only March 2011 with March last year, the equivalent number of full-time retail employees fell by 0.8%.
The BRC also found that while 63% of businesses questioned intend to keep staffing levels unchanged in the next quarter, 29% will cut employee numbers. The figure is up 21% from the same time last year.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “These figures confirm how tough the trading environment is. Retail is still creating more jobs than other sectors, but numbers for the quarter rose at their slowest rate since this survey began at the end of 2009.
“Consumer demand is weak and retailers, looking ahead and trying to keep their operating costs down, are less optimistic about future employment.”