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South West

The retail sector in the South West employs 255,158 people, which accounts for nearly 11% of the total retail workforce in England. 86% of retailers in the South West employ 10 people or less. Over the past five years, there has been a 5% increase in the number of businesses that employ 10 people or less, whilst medium size businesses (11-49) have seen a decline of nearly 16%. Businesses that employ over 200 employees have also seen an increase, but still account for less than 1% of all establishments in the region.

Workforce key statistics:

  • 43% of the workforce is employed full-time
  • 65% is female
  • Only 43% of managers and senior officials have an NVQ level 3 or higher qualification. 21% of this occupational group have a below NVQ level 2 qualification.
  • Staff with a below NVQ level 2 qualification account for 34% of sales and customer service staff and 46% of elementary occupations. The percentage for elementary occupations also includes 22% who have no qualifications.

Vacancies statistics:

  • In the South West, 17% of employers have at least one vacancy, which is the second highest percentage of all regions. 5% of employers in the region report hard-to-fill vacancies and 3% report vacancies resulting from skill shortages.
  • Of the retail businesses in the South West reporting hard-to-fill vacancies, 56% noted vacancies in sales and customer service roles, 7% in managerial roles and 3% in elementary occupations.
  • The South West has an incidence of hard-to-fill vacancies in administrative professions that are three times greater than the English average. The proportion of employers reporting hard-to-fill vacancies in elementary occupations is half the English average.
  • Of the companies in the South West reporting skill-shortage vacancies, 48% stated they had vacancies in sales and customer service roles, 21% in administrative roles and 12% in skilled trade people.
  • Retail employers in the South West find customer handling (37%), oral communication (34%) and technical skills (33%) the most difficult skills to find in applicants.

Source: South West Regional Background Brief 2008