- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
A 'Disorderly Brexit,’ where either the UK leaves the EU without an agreement or the UK’s departure from the EU is delayed while fresh attempts are made to arrive at an agreement, could see the UK’s retail economy suffer a 3.1 billion pound reduction in output a year by 2024.
New research by workforce management expert Quinyx in collaboration with Development Economics and Censuswide, found that the increase in economic output from the UK’s retail workers (in manual and elementary service roles) would be over 5.2 billion pounds per year by 2024 under an orderly Brexit, compared to just 2.1 billion pounds under a disorderly Brexit, which they states equates to a 59 percent reduction or 3.1 billion pound loss each year.
The decrease in economic output would come from a lack of access to blue-collar staff such as stock assistants, shop and supermarket workers, warehousing or cleaning staff, which would come as a result of uncertainty around, or lack of, immigration policies.
The report reveals that 45 percent of UK retail businesses highlighted that leaving the EU will negatively impact their ability to hire retail staff and the research adds that whatever the Brexit scenario, retail businesses could lose almost a fifth of its current workforce.
The impact would vary across the UK, with the research adding that a disorderly Brexit would hit London, the East of England and the South East the worst, as they will see the greatest reductions in available workers and economic output.
45 percent of UK retail businesses state that leaving the EU will negatively impact their ability to hire retail staff
Mansoor Malik, managing director UK and International at Quinyx, said in a statement: “The impact that a disorderly Brexit will have on the UK’s stock assistants, shop and supermarket workers, as well as the retail businesses that employ them is concerning. Access to manual workers or those in elementary service roles is crucial for ensuring the UK’s economic wellbeing – and employers, especially those in the retail sector, need to make plans to avoid staff shortages.
“A first step for employers facing staff shortages is looking at ways that they can bridge the gap between supply and demand. Given the degree of uncertainty on the horizon, seeking out new ways to attract and retain domestic workers should be a primary focus.’’
The research also found that difficulties accessing blue-collar workers as a result of Brexit are likely to be further exacerbated, as retail employers already face challenges in recruiting and retaining them, as 50 percent of UK employers in the retail sector who have a manual and elementary service workforce currently struggle to recruit these workers, with more than half (54 percent) reporting that they struggle to retain them.
The main barriers to the recruitment and retention of these workers in the UK are low pay, lack of flexibility, and limited career progression, as well as unsociable hours.
“Our research found that skills shortages, as a by-product of poor retention and the inability to recruit workers in retail, result in an 8 percent reduction of growth and a 10 percent drop in productivity in businesses, on average,” added Malik. “Hiring and retaining staff is no easy task at the best of times, but with Brexit on the horizon it’s crucial that retail businesses now do all they can to attract motivated workers to these roles. Employers need to be creative and provide the greater flexibility that manual and elementary service workers are looking for.”
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