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Could the retail sector help improve unemployment stats?

Nearly five years after the UK economy started to show a few signs of wear and tear, and times are still tough for many businesses, not to mention the millions of jobseekers still looking for any kind of paid employment. While sectors such as manufacturing and construction are still in the doldrums, there may be a few green shoots appearing in retail.

retailA handful of retailers who have enjoyed success online as well as on the high street are looking to increase their customer base by opening new outlets. ASDA, for example, are set to open 12 new stores this year as well as improve their ecommerce operation. They intend to create up to 2,500 new jobs nationwide, which for jobseekers is surely welcome news.

Bricks and mortar

Despite the recent malaise which has afflicted the retail sector, where dozens of high street names including Comet and JJB Sports have ceased to exist, the growth in online retail could provide people with new job opportunities. As well as the likes of ASDA putting more resources into expanding on the shop floor and online, those who have made their name on the net are ready to make a big leap.

Investment in shops is something that successful online retailers are looking into. The example of furniture retailer Oak Furniture Land, after establishing itself online, has decided to make a move into more conventional retailing, opening outlets in retail parks across the UK, perhaps in response to the news that over £300bn was spent in stores last year.

Lighting up the high street

Oak Furniture Land isn’t the only online retailer providing new retail job opportunities. After experiencing some success online, ecigarettedirect.co.uk opened a shop in Neath, South Wales. The shop created a few new vacancies which were filled by local people, and has helped to partially revitalise the town centre too.

Even on a smaller scale, it seems that online retailers believe that gaining presence on the high street is the next step for them. As the example in Neath shows, the transition from ecommerce to multiple retail platforms can help to boost brand awareness as well as consumer confidence, especially if they see a new shop open.

In terms of creating jobs, the more firms that decide that moving into traditional retail from ecommerce will inevitably mean more jobs. There might be a few teething problems for firms initially, but once they’re used to it, they’ll be ready to grow.



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