Why Britain’s retailers will still need EU workers post-Brexit

Permeating our daily news at all levels, Brexit’s uncertain outcome is unsettling our retail industry, traditionally a sizeable employer of EU workers.

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Restricting access to this core resource will almost inevitably impact on service standards, availability and choice of goods and lead to higher prices, according to a recent trade body survey.

Home Delivery Market

Home deliveries are an increasingly established part of our contemporary buying methods, with emphasis increasingly being placed on qualitative criteria, according to the e-retail specialist IMRG UK Consumer Home Delivery Review 2016.

Currently, there is a significant employment core of EU nationals within the warehouse sector and in distribution jobs, without which the consumer is likely to experience slower home deliveries and commensurately higher prices if the free movement of this class of labour becomes restricted. The food industry in particular is likely to suffer more from EU workforce shortage, particularly with supermarket and, more recently, fast food deliveries gaining popularity.

Retail Experience

Brexit will impact our retail experience on the high street and in shopping centres with their sensory factors of in store music from companies such as https://moodmedia.co.uk, visual impact and holistic entertainment, combined with eating and drinking and the more prosaic in-home shopping experience.

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Over half the retailers surveyed reported worries from their EU workers about the ending of free movement for them, restricting their ability to remain in the UK. Indeed, a little over 20% had already experienced staff leaving the UK because of the uncertainty. This Brexit decision is detrimental to the retail industry as a whole when people do not have the security to stay put and continue their lives, even 16 months after the Brexit referendum.

According to the voice of the retail industry trade body, the British Retail Consortium the impact of Brexit on EU nationals employed by the industry needs planning and support.

Retailers must lobby to keep access to non-graduate EU employees without the need for sponsorship to provide a structure whereby they can attract, recruit and retain this core part of their workforce. Without this certainty of their ability to remain in the UK together with stability of employment, EU workers will follow the trend to depart the UK’s shores, and consumers will end up paying more for poorer service.