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East of England

The retail sector in the East of England employs 277,923 people, which accounts for nearly 12% of the total retail workforce in England. 85% of retailers in the East of England employ 10 people or less. Between 2001-2006, there was a decline in the number of medium-sized establishments (11-49) and an increase in the number of businesses that employ over 200 employees.

Workforce statistics:

  • 43% of the workforce is employed full-time
  • 62% is female
  • Only 41% of managers and senior officials have NVQ level 3 or higher qualification. 22% of this occupational group have a below NVQ level 2 qualification.
  • Staff with a below NVQ level 2 qualification account for 42% of sales and customer service staff and 63% of elementary staff. 24% of employees in elementary occupations do not have any qualifications.

Vacancies statistics:

  • In the East of England, 18% of employers have at least one vacancy, which is the highest percentage of all nine regions. 4% of employers in the region report hard-to-fill vacancies and 2% report vacancies resulting from skills shortages.
  • Of the retail businesses in the East of England reporting hard-to-fill vacancies, 78% reported vacancies for sales and customer service roles, 8% in elementary role and 5% in managerial roles.
  • The East of England shows lower than average incidences of hard-to-fill vacancies in most of the occupational groups. However, the percentage of employers reporting hard-to-fill vacancies in sales and customer service staff is 18% above the English average.
  • Of the companies in the East of England reporting skill-shortage vacancies, 58% stated they had vacancies in sales and customer service roles, 12% in associate professional roles and 17% in managerial roles.
  • Retail employers in the East of England find written communication (69%), customer handling (65%) and oral communication (64%) the most difficult skills to find in applicants.

Source: East of England Regional Background Brief 2008