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Wage Increases, High Street & Unemployment

Wages Increases, Plans To Save The High Street and Unemployment Figures Go Up

The UK economy has faced some truly significant challenges over recent years and that pattern looks set to continue. In today’s article, we’re going to look at income, employment and the high street as these topics contribute directly to the performance of the UK fashion and retail market.

Alongside financial data and retail performance updates, we’re also going to explore some of the most recent plans for saving the high street. The trade union Usdaw are the latest to provide a blueprint for driving consumers back to the high street but it remains to be seen as to whether this plan is finally the one that transforms our nation’s stores.

As a clothing photography service, changes in fashion and retail often lead to new opportunities but also challenges. So let’s look at the latest news and what it may mean for those of us within the industry.

Wage rises and unemployment increases – an unexpected combination

A recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the average pay (without bonuses) in the three months leading up to May 2023, was 7.3% higher year-on-year. This is the joint highest increase since 2001 when these figures started to be tracked.

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the focus on cost-of-living challenges and the drive by many workers to achieve pay rises. However, it is still below the current inflation rate.

What is more of a surprise is the data that shows unemployment increased during the same quarter, going up to 4% from 3.8%. This is slightly higher than forecast and should also be viewed alongside evidence that job vacancies fell and more men rejoining the UK labour market.

Retail boost in June thanks to warmer weather

The UK saw plenty of warm weather in June, often a bonus for those working in the retail sector as well as fashion and clothing photography. The retail sales monitoring group BRC-KPMG found that retail sales were an impressive 4.9% higher than in June 2022, which is also higher than the current three-month average.

A combination of Father’s Day, swimwear, garden furniture and summer items aided this increase but it should be noted that consumers are still wary of purchasing high-priced items such as technology and furniture. Food sales saw a marked increase in June, increasing by 9.8% which was higher than the current 12-month average.

Usdaw’s blueprint for saving the retail sector

As we commented on during the introduction to this article, there have been many masterplans and blueprints on how to save the retail sector. Yet many seem to fail or get forgotten about before they even begin.

The trade union Usdaw are the latest to put its vision for retail down on paper and they are calling for changes to business taxation to reduce the differences between online stores and in-store locations. Furthermore, they want greater funding for local authorities to enable them to provide more support to high streets across the UK.

From an individual perspective, they are campaigning for an increased minimum wage and improvements to Statutory Sick Pay.

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