Are Retail Vacancies Holding Your Charity Back?

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that the number of job vacancies rose by 290,000 between May and July from the previous three-month period, to 953,000. That’s the highest level since records were started. Whilst haulage and other driving vacancies seen to be getting a lot of the publicity, they are far from the only sector experiencing the same difficulties in their recruitment. Retail vacancies were at 75,000 and, whilst this is lower than the same period in 2019, there are fewer retail jobs due to the closure and contraction of many retail businesses. To put this into some context there are 1.4% less people in employment within the UK compared to two years ago but 5.8% less people are employed within retail during the same period.

With so many retail closures – 234,000 jobs having been lost during the past two-year period in retail alone – it may appear strange that this is one of the worst affected sectors in terms of filling vacancies.

There was already a high number of retail vacancies prior to the pandemic but because of changing customer shopping habits, combined with the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic, and of course Brexit, many potential applicants have a greater range of positions to apply for now. Add to that the fact retail is a wide-ranging industry with multiple choices combined with a considerable number of the previous workforce leaving the UK and this unfortunate ‘perfect storm’ is inevitable (and clearly supported by all available data). The inconvenient summary then is that there are an abundance of retail vacancies and, not only fewer potential candidates to fill the positions, but also a wide range of industries competing for those candidates.

Charity retailers have been affected more than most retailers in terms of unfilled vacancies with less applicants but most importantly less ‘suitable’ applicants. In surveys carried out over the past 5 years, more than 90% of charity retailers stated that the quality of shop managers is critically important to the success of the charity business. Many of the unfilled vacancies within charity retail right now is for shop managers, and this is a serious and growing concern for many across our sector.

It is important to stress, however, that it’s not all doom and gloom. There are examples of charities out there who do not resonate with these issues at all. A few charities are not having a problem recruiting whatsoever. So, what are the differences?

There are some noticeable differences between charities who are struggling to fill key shop managers vacancies and those struggling. These are the three key recommendations.

1. Pay. Many charities are paying the rates of pay based on a structure and outdated industry guidelines that were based on previous economic conditions. Skyline Business Services have a recommended pay scale for shop management base upon location that is proving to be far more in line with current economic conditions.

2. Advertising. There are a record breaking number of job vacancies out there. It is business critical right now to improve the visibility and attractiveness of your vacancies! This means it is essential for your job adverts to use the correct wording and be posted on the correct job boards and forums. We highly recommend using post covid-19 industry best practice when advertising vacancies.

3. Process. Best practice throughout the recruitment process (for the current market) often means making subtle adjustments to ensure the journey between application and interview is as short as possible.

When all three recommendations / best practices are actioned then your recruitment challenge, while not removed, will be greatly reduced.

Charity Retail Training & Support Services are a UK registered training provider, made up of a varied team of skilled specialists. Our team provide charities with the support they need to achieve their goals. Our breadth of experience and dedication empowers countless charities to optimise the return from their retail outlets.

If you would like to find out more about our Brand Directory or any of the other ways that we have helped so many charities with their retail business, please get in touch at or on 0208 050 7514.

Sign up for our latest blog updates


More blogs you may like to read...

Barry Moles

Reviewing your Retail Business

Charities should review their retail businesses every 5 years as best practice as the starting point for writing a retail strategy. This charity retail review

Read More »
Barry Moles

The 2022 Perfect Storm

Is your charity retail business resilient enough for what’s approaching? In early-November, I spoke at the Hospice UK National Conference and was fortunate enough to

Read More »