75,000 women in retail lost job as e-commerce gained popularity

12 Sep 2019

UK high street stores are struggling to survive as e-commerce sales continue to rise. As a result of the lack in sales in physical retail shops, thousands of women who worked as sales assistants have ended up jobless due to the closing of the stores, a report by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce showed. 

The research conveyed that 75,000 sales assistants or check out operators, jobs that were taken by women, have gone since 2011. In addition, 33,000 jobs owned by male workers were lost between 2011 and 2018, however, soon after there was a rise in demand for workers in warehouses and delivery drivers.
RSA director of innovation, Rowan Conway explained, ‘It is women who are on the front line of this. The traditional female skills of caring, welcoming and being customer service driven are lost when you are behind the wall of a logistics company or an Amazon warehouse.’ With online shopping becoming the preferred method of shopping, retail store jobs are steadily declining. 

The number of female workers in retail business has dropped from 16% in 1996 to 11% in 2018 – the Resolution Foundation showed that around 270,000 jobs were gone. Chief executive of Young Women’s Trust, Sophie Walker said, ‘The government has tied itself in knots to respond to charges that technology is decimating men’s jobs. Its response to this latest assessment is pitiful in comparison to the millions set aside to prevent closures of car factories and other male-dominated industries.’

The RSA found that the East Midlands, the North East and the East of England had the most job losses in sales and customer service jobs whereas retail jobs in London increased by 16%.  

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