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Northern Ireland

There are about 9,805 retail businesses in Northern Ireland, of which 79% employ less than 10 people. Employment within the Northern Ireland retail industry is around 82,393 people, which accounts for around 10% of all employment. Between 2007 and 2017, 6,000 new retail jobs are expected to be created in Northern Ireland, while a further 33,000 will need to be filled as a result of people leaving the sector. This means that there is a total requirement of 39,000 people between 2007-2017.

Since 2000, over 2,000 retail establishments have opened, representing an increase of over 40%. Northern Ireland accounts for 3% of all retail establishments in the UK. Four in five retailers in Northern Ireland are micro-businesses employing less than 10 staff.

There are several high profile developments in Belfast with the opening of Victoria Square and continuing work at Cathedral Quarter and Castle Court. Outside Belfast, the Sprucefield Park development is still growing as well as the Outlet at Bridgewater Park, Banbridge.

Key workforce statistics:

  • Sales and customer services accounts for 51% of the total retail employment in Northern Ireland
  • 23% of the workforce is employed in managerial posts and 7% in elementary occupations.
  • 56% of the workforce is employed full-time
  • 59% is female
  • 11% of the workforce is 16-19 years old compared to 17% in UK
  • 22% of the workforce is 20-24 years old, compared to 15% in UK
  • There is very small number of ethnic minorities employed in the sector.
  • 8% of the workforce is disabled.

Key vacancies statistics:

  • 8% of retailers in Northern Ireland currently have at least one staff vacancy.
  • Sales and customer service occupations remain the largest source of vacancies.
  • The proportion of vacancies for managerial occupations has increased.

Skill gaps statistics:

  • 7% of retailers in Northern Ireland reported to have skill gaps.
  • Skill gaps are concentrated in the sales and customer service occupations (62% of total skill gaps).

Source: Northern Ireland National Background Brief 2008