back to article Nearly a million retail jobs will be destroyed by the march of tech, warns trade body

Structural upheaval driven by technological change will cost British retailers nearly one million jobs by 2025, according to a trade body. There could be 900,000 fewer jobs in retail in nine years’ time as a result of accelerated store closures and shifting priorities in investment. That’s according to the British Retail …

  1. djstardust

    Hmmmm

    The fact there are far too many shops selling exactly the same shit is nothing to do with it?

    And also the "corporate" brands have pretty much eradicated independent traders in many places.

    Every retail park and mall has EXACTLY the same shops and it just bores me to tears.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Hmmmm

      I was just about to post the same thing. The death of the "high street" is due to the clone-a-shop retail outlets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmm

        The death of the "high street" is due to the clone-a-shop retail outlets.

        And don't forget the high parking charges levied by the local councils. You would almost think they didn't want cars in the high streets.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Hmmmm

          Well.

          Councils have more involvement that just parking, they also screw real shops in the high street with additional taxes. Unless your a charity shop or estate agents which are encouraged to take high street locations by virtue of being tax exempt. No idea why on either, but it explains why we have 6 charity shops, 8 estate agents and only 5? actual shops.

          The main issue though is simply that frankly a lot of high street shops don't actually deserve to survive. In order to survive, bricks and mortar shops really need to be able to win on at least one of the following:-

          1) Price

          2) Quality

          3) Speed of Delivery

          4) Service

          Our local butchers (for instance) richly deserved to die, because they failed in every area. Their quality was worse than the local supermarkets, they charged more and the staff weren't helpful. The butchers van that turns up on the market is surviving and will continue to survive because you can get either better prices or better quality than the supermarkets, depending on what you pick.

          The local electronics shop that sells white goods survives because they stock a smallish range of good quality equipment, but keep them all in stock so if somebody walks in and wants one then they can offer to stick it in their car then and there, or deliver within the hour in their van for a small additional charge. This business survived despite being ten minutes away from a Comet superstore. Comets failed most of these, and have now died out.

          The high street clothes shop has been around for 150+ years, and continues to survive despite being within a 2 minute walk of major chain stores, and an ASDA with a clothing section. They manage this and are doing pretty well because they recognise that quite a lot of men despise clothes shopping and offer better quality than average clothes at a not unreasonable price. That, and they have genuinely helpful staff who can quickly take your measurements, show you which clothes actually suit you and where they are in the store, so you can be in and out in mere minutes.

          Competing against internet shops is not radically more difficult than competing against another brick and mortar store. All it does is kill off stores that can't adapt to offer what customers want and are willing to pay for, and that has been happening for much longer than the internet has been around. Lack of adaption and a total absense of business planning is the problem, not internet shops.

          1. eesiginfo

            Re: Hmmmm

            You make a lot of pertinent points, and I agree with much of what you say.

            However I would take issue with:

            "Competing against internet shops is not radically more difficult than competing against another brick and mortar store."

            I would suggest that the difference is entirely radical, certainly for many segments of the retail sector.

            For starters, the big 'distribution type' companies pay barely any tax in comparison to bricks & mortar types.

            Also with web purchasing, people can very quickly locate, compare, read reviews & technical specs, and find the best deal.

            This is a radical change to the entire bricks & mortar retail business model.

            I rarely enter a shop now (other than a supermarket).

            I don't think that I'm alone.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Hmmmm

              Also with web purchasing, people can very quickly locate, compare, read reviews & technical specs, and find the best deal.

              Not only that, an Internet store can easily offer a larger selection and, due to volume, at lower prices than your average B&M shop, and that's even before counting high street area rent, council taxes etc.. Physical shops don't attract customers from all over the country, unless they're extremely attractive on price, advice and/or service; if you're shipping stuff anyway you can just as well service the entire country and beyond (a fair amount of stuff I buy over the Internet is from Germany).

            2. Tom 13

              Re: For starters, the big 'distribution type' companies pay barely any tax

              Brrrrrrrttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!

              He covered that in line 2 (first full sentence).

              Retail shops have advantages virtual ones will never have: You can really see it, pick it up, feel it. Those are huge advantages over the ones you credit to the virtual stores. Indeed the primary reason it is difficult to do the comparisons for the brick and mortar stores is precisely that they have worked licensing deals to obscure the real comparisons.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmmmm

            Having worked briefly for a town council (6 months) it seemed to me this is all the fault of Central Government, over the years they have relentlessly cut local government funding forcing Councils to look every which way to keep themselves running, which of course leads to excessive parking regulation and high business rates, the place i was working for were trying to perform miracles with very limited funding, and even then most of them are in the red by at least a million pounds or often more.

            I was reading an article about the EU referendum recently where Hastings council were saying they would not have open libraries and museums if it were not for EU grants, all the time we've got skinflint Osbourne controlling the purse strings I can't see that changing.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Hmmmm

              @AC

              this is all the fault of Central Government, over the years they have relentlessly cut local government funding forcing Councils to look every which way to keep themselves running, which of course leads to excessive parking regulation and high business rates

              That is because councils missed the point entirely. The goal is not to keep themselves running. The goal is to slash the overstaffed inefficient back offices through the use of automation, increased effort, and some semblance of competency.

              Preservation of the status quo was never the goal, nor should it have been. Thus, it is really the fault of the petty empire builders within the council.

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: @peter2 Hmmmm

              Steaks taste a lot better when you know it was walking around on its own less than 24 hours ago.

              No they don't. The beast needs to be hung for 10 to 14 days. Fresh beef tastes metallic and lacks beef flavour. It's also tougher. Full beef flavour requires a minimum of 11 days of aging. I suspect you don't really like beef.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "Steaks taste a lot better when you know it was walking around on its own less than 24 hours ago."

              Steaks taste better when they've been properly aged.

          4. Brad Ackerman
            Holmes

            Re: Hmmmm

            In order to survive, bricks and mortar shops really need to be able to win on at least one of the following:-

            Good as far as it goes, but misses one major point: in order for customers to hand you money, you need to be present to receive it. Lots of high street shops don't seem to have noticed that trading hours were deregulated, and they no longer need to close before their customers get off work.

          5. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Hmmmm

            Well said Peter. Well said. Many retail shops are their own worst enemy.

        2. Peter Simpson 1

          Re: Hmmmm

          I was going to say the death of retail (including "big box" stores) due to the fact that whatever you're looking for is available online.

          Annoyed from walking into clothing stores and finding that yes, my size in the color I want is again "out of stock" and no, they don't know when or if they'll be getting any more of them,

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        > The death of the "high street" is due to the clone-a-shop retail outlets.

        And councils putting in parking meters, plus constantly raising business rates as more and more businesses decide they've had enough and get the fuck out of Dodge.

        A classic example was Dorking: The town axed half hour parking charges and doubled the 1 hour rates on the basis that they needed the income (which is actually illegal, parking revenue is not to be used as general income) - the end result was that parking revenue HALVED. Most businesses reported a downturn on sales too. People just go where the parking is easy and free instead - it's called voting with your wallet.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        "The death of the "high street" is due to the clone-a-shop retail outlets."

        Motorist-hostile council policies don't help. Nobody there realises that money arrives by car. And out-of-town centres have let their car-parks to the parking vultures.

    2. djstardust

      Re: Hmmmm

      And it's exactly the same with chain restaurants.

      Frankie & Bennys

      Chiquitos

      Coast to Coast

      Garfunkel's

      All owned by the same company. And usually all next door to each other in the same mall or retail park. Deliberately done that way to eradicate competition.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmm

      Yup, plus people go crazy with excitement when their town gets a Nandos. Meanwhile nobody talks about how great their local independent restaurants are because they've often never been in them.

      It's all about brand and expectations, people won't take a risk.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        Hmmmm, sheeple, woolly chavs that by their sheer number encourage the least deserving onto success.

        It's no wonder that choice and quality has vacated the high street, when people rely on glitzy adverts to tell them what to buy, and divine quality by looking at the price tag.

        Then we have the ludicrous situation where most of the high street is owned by just a few parent companies, with multiple brand outlets, that seemingly compete with each other, yet, as pointed out already, exist for the sole purpose of monopolising the place, to the ultimate detriment of the shopper.

        Thank fuck I've got a computer and an internet connection, so I can extract myself from this managed menagerie of bird brained shoppers and cat stroking retail barons.

    4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      @djstardust - I was thinking the same. In the US retail is overbuilt and many stores are essentially selling the same stuff even the same brands.

      It seems that these doom-and-gloom pieces ignore that jobs lost at the store level will be replaced by jobs for delivery and distribution centers. Amazon, et. al. must get the products to their customers so how. Also, many stores (Best Buy & Walmart definitely) in the US have in-store pickup which is very handy if the item is very valuable and rather easy to five-finger discount.

  2. Yugguy

    It's all the fault of the Tories, er Labour, er, the Tories, er, Labour, er...

    There's an article on this on the BBC with a comments section with everyone blaming their favourite political target.

    This is not political, it's cultural. We've fundamentally and irreversibly changed the way we shop.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: It's all the fault of the Tories, er Labour, er, the Tories, er, Labour, er...

      It is political. The freetards are opposed to taxing things on the internet. That gives the internet a HUGE builtin advantage on pricing. There's simply no way around that problem. And you can tell how critical an advantage this is because of how loud they all scream when anybody suggests changing it.

      I'm all for keeping tax rates as low as possible and imposing them as broadly as possible. It's a fine line distinction, but a critical one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's all the fault of the Tories, er Labour, er, the Tories, er, Labour, er...

        The freetards are opposed to taxing things on the internet.

        So, you're suggesting that internet retailers don't pay UK VAT, business rates on their premises, the various taxes on employment that government apply to all businesses, fuel duties in distribution etc etc? The only place the playing field isn't level is in the area of corporation tax for multinationals, and anybody who thinks that works out as cheaper customer prices evidently can't do maths.

        The internet is (usually) much cheaper because high street retail is space and labour inefficient, leading to higher rents, higher labour costs, higher payroll taxes, as well as increasing the working capital in the supply chain. Factor in the festering sore of business rates, and the high streets problems can be seen as sadly inevitable. Taxing internet retailers more would certainly put their costs up, but I can't see that changing modern shopping habits.

  3. HmmmYes Silver badge

    There's more to go than that.

    For starters, the 5 people at PC world who were chatting and ignoring me when I popped into buy a HDD.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When I'm forced to go into PC world, I pray the *******s will ignore me. I need some clueless eejit trying to sell me a £15 USB cable with my purchase like I need hole in the head.

      1. wyatt

        Interested to know why the A/C? Unless you work there..!?

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          @wyatt

          +1 sir.

          Yes, inquiring minds want to know.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nope, I always go A/C when I'm taking cheap shots.

      2. Pig Dog Bay
        Thumb Down

        PC World / Currys - Hell on earth, try to pay for goods and they sit you down and hard sell you insurance;

        "...

        Me: For the 10th time, I don't want transportation insurance!

        Them: What if you're new TV is damaged when getting it home in your car?

        Me: I'll just bring it back and say it was already broken and demand my money back.

        ..."

        The last time I ever went in, was to pick up my Nexus 7 back in 2012:

        "Hiya mate! You wouldn't believe the deal we've got on Norton Antivirus.."

        15 minutes later I'm yelling f**k off to them and just give me my bloody tablet.

        Utter chunts, good riddance if they go under

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          I got the "So you *want* to get viruses?" method of anti-virus sales for a tablet I bought recently.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I tried the "why, are you selling me something that's sooooo vulnerable I need to buy protection here and now, just in case?" The silence was a reward of it's own.

        2. Lysenko

          "Hiya mate! You wouldn't believe the deal we've got on Norton Antivirus.."

          No need for annoyance: just ask if it can do Hyperconverged DevOps or something. That's guaranteed to bore your victim into silence - especially if (s)he actually knows what you're talking about.

          1. akeane

            Re: "Hiya mate! You wouldn't believe the deal we've got on Norton Antivirus.."

            I would rather have the virus thanks, they use up less resources and don't nag you about upgrading every 5 minutes!

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "15 minutes later I'm yelling f**k off to them and just give me my bloody tablet."

          15 minutes later? You must have had plenty time on your hands. Id have been 14 minutes away by then, with or without the tablet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WTF?

      You went to PCW to buy a HDD? Are you mad or something worse?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: WTF?

        He's probably had experience of receiving a HDD in an envelope or whatever Amazon decides their economy packaging du jour is and then finding out that it disappears up its own fundament about 6 months to a year later.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: WTF?

          "He's probably had experience of receiving a HDD in an envelope"

          Return it, "refused, inadequate packaging, transport damage"

          I did that enough times to our suppliers that they got the hint - and made sure WD/Seagate were notified of the serial numbers so they couldn't palm them off on some other poor schmuck.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        HDDs are not much more expensive (if at all) in PCW, and I can be installing it 1 hour after I decide I need it (after checking online that they have it in stock & reserving for collection)

    3. Vic

      the 5 people at PC world who were chatting and ignoring me

      My missus' phone blew up one evening, so we went out to get a new one - there's a 24-hour Tesco near us who sell phones.

      She couldn't decide whether to buy the S5 or the S6 - she wanted to see how they felt. The display models had this huge ant-theft carrier, which meant you really couldn't tell.

      Tesco weren't interested in letting her feel one unencumbered - so we left without buying either.

      Vic.

  4. Lysenko

    A shift to more valuable jobs in analysis...

    A shift to more McJobs drop kicking boxes around Yodel sorting warehouses I think you mean.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A shift to more valuable jobs in analysis...

      Nope, that'll be done by robot

      1. Lysenko

        Nope, that'll be done by robot.

        Too much CapEx. No need to invest in hardware when there is lots of instantly disposable wetware to exploit, exhaust and discard.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Too much CapEx

          Nope.

          The topic of robots came up this weekend when I visiting my folks. He'd seen the clip everybody's been raving about on the news. We did some back of the envelope calculations. Assuming a half million (insert your local currency here) and an annual salary of (_currency symbol_)35K, you'll recoup the cost of a robot in about 3 years. Remember, the cost to the business of that employee is about 50K, plus you get a 3x multiplier because it doesn't need to sleep.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A shift to more valuable jobs in analysis...

        But a robot can't kick your package around the courier warehouse nearly as well as a human can.

        If you ever have someone griping about packaging being expensive, show him (always a him) the videos of courier abuse sitting on Youtube. The most egrarious examples happen inside the warehouses.

        1. Lysenko

          Exactly.

          Those multi-million DARPA efforts can barely even walk properly. Yodel want guys who can slot an Amazon box between the posts at Twickenham from 30 paces and make a credible effort at Discus and Shot Putt. Robots? Meh.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A shift to more valuable jobs in analysis...

          Oh, yes...

          I had the dubious pleasure of installing a system at a certain Heathrow Air-Freight company. It was quite amusing to watch the muppets shove boxes around the warehouse using a forklift truck because it was too much effort to do it properly.

          Saw one slide a fork lift truck into a stack of pallets because he was going too fast, stop and shrug when he saw the damage then continue on his merry way.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: A shift to more valuable jobs in analysis...

      Yep, I'm tired of this fiction that everyone and anyone can have a desk job if they just try hard enough when most people barely know how turn a PC on!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News just in...

    ...people like shopping on the internet, so they have more choice, lower cost, and delivered to their home or workplace.

    Compare this to the high street - devoid of selection, out of stock, higher costs (due to overheads), parking charges and lousy customer service.

    Unless you are offering something unique or value-add, over and above internet shopping, you deserve to go out of business.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: News just in...

      It's kind of odd that it should be cheaper to have stuff delivered individually compared to the cost of picking it up from a central distribution point (aka "shop"). One of the reasons is the absurdly high rents (and indeed rates) on commercial premises that date back to the boom years of credit-fuelled retail expansion.

      Lack of demand is gradually depressing rents for retail property and it will likely eventually fall to a level where shops are potentially more viable - provided any of them still exist at that point. I'm not sure it's in any of our best interests to have major transport hubs (city and town centres) surrounded by empty property and tumbleweed because the investment property market couldn't or wouldn't adjust to changes in economics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: News just in...

        I really do hope that this causes rents to drop, and allow individual retailers to re-take the high-street!

        We need the councils to encourage footfalls in town/city centres, encourage new restaurants, lounge bars, karaoke clubs, etc... anything that can entertain. give people something to do in the evening, my local town and city is terrible for that...

        We also need more tailors and dress makers, give free business classes to students, encourage people to study these kind of crafts and to set up their own businesses.

        I walk down Londons streets and I find traditional tailors everywhere, I walk down my local citys streets, I see places like pound shops, top shop and primark, maybe a starbucks serving filth for coffee.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: News just in...

        Exactly Warm Braw. Most property owners I've met are some of the most shortsighted greedy people I've ever met.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: News just in...

          Most property owners I've met are some of the most shortsighted greedy people I've ever met.

          And that's one of the most shortsighted comments I've read. I'm a fairly typical Australian property owner. I worked hard for a living and instead of pissing my earnings up against a pub wall, I invested in property so I would be less of a burden on society in my dotage. Has it occurred to you that if most property owners you meet didn't get where they are by fucking hard work and limiting immediate gratification for a better retirement, it might just be a reflection on you and your values?

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: News just in...

            Thanks for the downvotes. Here are some statistics on us "shortsighted greedy" bastards.

            Farming as a vocation tends to be characterised by a high degree of self-employment and long working hours. In 2011, half (50%) of farmers worked 49 hours or more a week. Only 17% of other workers put in such long hours. More than half (56%) of Australia’s farmers were self-employed owner managers (compared with 15% of other workers), with a further 17% working as employees managing farms owned by someone else.

            ....

            Despite working such long hours, the average weekly disposable income of farmers in 2009-10 ($568) was considerably lower than that of people working in other occupations ($921).

            How fucking greedy is that? Fucking morons...

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: News just in...

        "surrounded by empty property and tumbleweed"

        In my local town property doesn't stay empty. It all gets converted to student flats.

      4. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: News just in...

        It's kind of odd that it should be cheaper to have stuff delivered individually compared to the cost of picking it up from a central distribution point (aka "shop").

        Tasmanian retail prices have always been much higher than Mainland prices, the excuse being the cost of shipping across Bass Strait. The absurdity of this was illustrated a mere three weeks ago when our TV set died. It cost me $AU60 less to have the replacement delivered to my rural home from the mainland than to purchase it from a local retailer and deliver it myself.

        If I had been in less of a hurry to get my Dell 32" monitor back where it belonged, I would have ordered from China and have saved another $AU100 or so.

    2. KeithR

      Re: News just in...

      "Compare this to the high street - devoid of selection, out of stock"

      There ya go.

      I can live with the rest - in fact I will happily pay over the odds to support local business when they've got the the thing I want - but they almost never do.

      I'm not talking about esoterically exotic bits and pieces either: the last thing I tried and failed to buy on my local high street was a plug-in USB 3 sd/CF card reader.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: News just in...

        in fact I will happily pay over the odds to support local business when they've got the the thing I want - but they almost never do.

        Ain't that the truth! Tried to purchase a headband from local sport/fitness stores without success. Cost via Internet from the mainland $AU35 plus P&P. I purchased four fro $4 from China post paid. Tried to purchase a USB 3 hub from Dick Smith (recently went titsup) and was told there was insufficient demand for USB 3 hubs for them to stock. So it goes...

  6. ratfox Silver badge

    So went the horses and carts

    Innovation regularly makes whole industries redundant. That's a fact of life.

    People in those industries can have trouble adapting. We may be able to help some of them.

    For all the rest: This is why we need a good social security system.

    The one mistake we should not commit is to refrain from innovating in order to protect existing industries.

  7. All names Taken
    Alien

    Oft repeated phrase time

    There ain't no gain withat pain?

    I get the impression that most (if not all) El Reg contributors are reasonably intelligent and so I can count on an intelligent appreciation of progress, no?

    The alternative approach is a bit Luddite with UK sinking even swifter to its evicted from EU backwater, no?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oft repeated phrase time

      no gain withat pain? I want to see your view when you're on the receiving end of the "pain" bit...

  8. Steve Foster
    Holmes

    In Other News...

    ...the freight industry reports that there are 250,000[1] new driving jobs being created every year, due to the increased use of logistics and delivery services on the back of that shift to "online and digital".

    [1] number plucked out of thin air by me.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: In Other News...

      Always plenty of folk muttering about increased home / workplace deliveries of internet purchases having an impact on traffic congestion, pollution etc.

      As an aside, I like the high street, though would be happier if the small independents stayed open late enough to benefit from commuter footfall: On my commute I get off a train not long after 5 PM and walk up a high street to the car park, the majority of the small shops are closed / putting shutters down at that time of day so miss out on my custom, typically the butcher & greengrocer I would like to support are shut so I end up getting fresh produce in the supermarket.

      Too many small shops seem to still exist on the model of a nuclear family with breadwinner at work & other adult doing day time shopping, instead of scenarios of single people, couples (but both are working as 1 income not enough to pay nills), etc., etc - and where the daytime "shopper" is more likely to be either retired or unemployed (obv,. they still buy things) but missing out on the custom (direct or partner) of wage slaves.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: In Other News...

      "...the freight industry reports that there are 250,000[1] new driving jobs being created every year"

      Only until robot drivers take over - which will happen sooner than robot shopkeepers.

  9. Brenda McViking
    Holmes

    A million jobs lost

    I read this in Worstall terms - the retail industry is now getting more efficient and will have lower operating costs to pass on to consumers. Those who are employed will soon be free to do something more valuable within society, and as society we are as a whole, richer for it, as we are getting more productivity from fewer people.

    After all, no doubt there was hand-wringing when combine harvesters put a million threshers out of work, but then again it doesn't cost 3 hours' minimum wage for a bag of flour any more does it? And whilst some of the previously employed languished for the rest of their days on the dole, telling mail journos that immigrants and the old prime minister were to blame for their ills, more of them went and got higher paying jobs in other sectors, and so society progressed...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: A million jobs lost

      There's always someone who reads this in Worstall's terms. Unfortunately Worstall forgets that not all the population is cut out to be rocket scientists or economy bloggers and there'll eventually be a large un-ignorable amount unemployable people as the economy marches on to bigger and better things.

      I'm sure you've met people in retail who don't quite make the grade to work in retail. What will they do when the retail jobs go? What's the solution?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A million jobs lost

        What's the solution?

        The solution is always the same, i.e.

        a) tough (= they can f... off and die)

        b) become a rocket scientist or economy blogger, because, you know, I can do it, he can do it, they can do it... if you can't do it, well, you're just too lazy - or see above (a).

      2. KeithR

        Re: A million jobs lost

        "Unfortunately Worstall forgets that not all the population is cut out to be rocket scientists or economy bloggers "

        He doesn't "forget": he doesn't care, and will happily ignore such facts in order to score the points he's so obsessed with scoring.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: A million jobs lost

        "there'll eventually be a large un-ignorable amount unemployable people as the economy marches on to bigger and better things."

        For the most part, robots are taking over the dirty, boring and dangerous things.

        if you've been indoctrinated all your life that you're going to be a coalminer when you leave school then the pit closing is a calamity, If you've been shown other paths then the world isn't nearly so gloomy.

        The Village Idiot Syndrome says that the village idiot can pitch hay with the rest of the yokels, but you wouldn't want him driving your John Deere tractor into a ditch. It overlooks that the village idiot might be a fantastic artist or isd otherwise useful in other areas. (I work with a guy who's a fantastic mathematician - professor emeritus - but don't let him near anything mechanical or expect him to hold much of a conversation. In another era he'd be the village idiot)

      4. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: A million jobs lost

        There's always someone who reads this in Worstall's terms. Unfortunately Worstall forgets that not all the population is cut out to be rocket scientists or economy bloggers and there'll eventually be a large un-ignorable amount unemployable people as the economy marches on to bigger and better things.

        I take it then you are out there smashing the job-stealing machines and looking forward to a society where everybody has to pitch-in at harvest time as used to happen when the Luddites were saying much the same thing?

    2. KeithR

      Re: A million jobs lost

      "I read this in Worstall terms - the retail industry is now getting more efficient and will have lower operating costs to pass on to consumers. Those who are employed will soon be free to do something more valuable within society, and as society we are as a whole, richer for it, as we are getting more productivity from fewer people."

      And it's EXACTLY that sort of crap that earns Worstall all the loathing he so richly deserves.

  10. Ian Tresman

    Jobs change

    Jobs are not just destroyed, they change. If we have Internet-based shopping, people are still needed to work along the delivery chain.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: people are still needed to work along the delivery chain.

      Where exactly?

      The orders are taken online and processed by the computer. So no data input employees. The items will be stocked by robots, so no stock boys learning to keep to a schedule before they move onto bigger things. The items will be delivered by drones, so not even any delivery drivers.

      The claims about the people need to program/fix these things are largely irrelevant. You needed someone to program when you had the data input employees and someone to fix the trucks for the delivery drivers. The only smallish gain you might get is in mechanics for the robots, but that could be robots too. And in any event you needed supervisors for the stock boys and they're now gone too.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. CheesyTheClown

    Why so long?

    Using current tech, there is no reason you couldn't require people to scan their payment method (phone, card, etc...), weigh the shopper and then require they weigh the same when leaving and scan the items necessary to make up the difference. Alternatively, RF tag everything and just require payment for the items scanned.

    It's really not hard to do with modern tech. Maybe the cost per RFID tag would be less than the cost of a human to process the checkout.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Why so long?

      "Alternatively, RF tag everything and just require payment for the items scanned."

      With current technology, attempts to do this have ended up scanning the stuff in the basket of the shopper behind too.

  13. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    "move away from the traditional shop floor walkers, shelf stackers and back-office operators"

    There are a lot of people in these jobs that are not suited to the (much smaller) number of analytics jobs that would open up. Result--social instability due to large numbers of low-skilled unemployable people.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and a 100 million jobs will be exported to Chinese slaves

    ...so that CEOs can enjoy even larger multi-million annual bonuses.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: ...and a 100 million jobs will be exported to Chinese slaves

      Chinese workers are already earning as much as US minimum wage and the rates are increasing - it's getting harder to recruit migrants from the inner provinces to the coastal ones where the factories are and harder to retain them once trained.

      better transportation links are helping, but at some point logistics of labour will dictate inland factories for the stuff which can't be robotised - Foxxcon is already the world's largest user of robots on assembly lines - and the trains will haul freight not people.

  15. WibbleMe

    If you sell a niche and or manufacture some thing then people will buy it if you store sell the same stuff as the one next to you and the one after than then expect to go out of business people will buy this kind of stuff direct look at farm shops for example they are doing better than ever because they have something people want

  16. earl grey Silver badge
    FAIL

    unskilled will always be the first to go

    it's unfortunate, but the lowest wage jobs should generally just be considered a stepping stone to getting experience, pocket cash, and moving up to a better job. in the states there is a problem with people thinking the minimum wage is somehow supposed to be a "liveable wage" - as they call it. It's not; never has been; never will be. It's a stepping stone wage.

    regarding merchandise on high street.... i recently ordered a new igniter for SWMBO's oven and knew that no one locally had that very specialized item in store; so i ordered it online. no real choices there, but (and this is a big difference now), it's at least available for purchase without having to call out a specialist to deliver and install at 10 times the price.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: unskilled will always be the first to go

      Wrong. Min wage was indeed created as the min income could live on and stayed that way until Reagan. (May he rest in hell.)

      Retail jobs also used be able to support a single person. Some positions barely others quite nicely.

      You either don't know history or have drank the extreme conservative kool aid. Or both.

      Me, I was there.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: unskilled will always be the first to go

        Posted from phone. Sorry for typos. No edit button in mobile mode.

      2. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: unskilled will always be the first to go

        Me, I was there.

        I spent my childhood in UKLand before my parents decided that Australia was a better place to live. When I compare what it was like to be working class in the 1950s and 60s with today, I notice that these days the working class have a higher standard of living than the middle class did back then. For example, the average house here in Oz has more than doubled in size over the last 50 years. The tenants who rent our town property have a TV set twice the size Mrs Git and I seem to need. Despite our "shortsighted greed" these people on welfare seem to be able to afford the rent and to own all sorts of tat that Mrs Git and I can see no pressing need for. Example: an espresso machine for making coffee; we use a French coffee press.

        It's such a hard life being working class these days...

  17. Asterix the Gaul

    As has been mentioned above,councils over the decades have milked local businesses,but so too have commercial property landlords,it's no wonder that real profitability is impossible,particularly when the above is even before competitition is taken into account.

    It's not just cultural though,it's political,not just with rates or rents, there's also the 'austerity' effect of taking out demand through making the working class,the pensioners or those on benefits poorer.

    Yes,pensioners do have it tough, do NOT believe Cameron's lies about being 'generous' to pensioners.

    The FACT is, pensioners,in NET terms are WORSE off, just like the groups above,the reason is simple, 2.5 % p.a increase under the 'triple lock',what the lying Tories do not say is that in 2011, they increased V.A.T by the same 2.5% from 17.5-20%.

    In other words, 'in one hand, out with the other',that's before inflation, the underfunding of the local council funding alterations that the Tories carried out, the 'precept' of 2.% from this April et'c.

    When you take money out of people's pockets to fund gov't spending, do not complain when the economy takes a dive,after all, the 'rich' do not need to spend the money they ripped off from taxpayers or through the inflated prices of goods & services that the middle class control.

    ONLY IDIOTS fail to understand the fact that when a group of businesses like utility companies get away with ripping off consumers with the full support of successive governments,as well as uncontrolled migration, that not just society begins to fracture, but also the economy & government too..

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Yes,pensioners do have it tough"

      And they're going to have it tougher.

      Baby Boomers have been sold a fraud for decades about how much they needed to save in order to keep themselves in old age. They happily went along with it because it meant more cash in their pockets through the 70s,80s,90s but the reality is that what they paid in taxes and NI mostly went straight out the revolving door to pensioners of the time. With an increasing ratio of penioners to wagearners the choices are 40% taxes on a 25k income to support pensions or cutting pensions or raising retirement age.

      Pensioners vote, but those kinds of tax rates mean that younger people will be motivated to do so as well, simply in order to avoid being the sheep in "democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner".

      In many ways, having so many boomers retiring is one way of hiding unemployment, but it's entirely possible their grandchildren and great grandchildren might well decide to stop paying the bills they've inherited and toss the fogies under a passing bus.

  18. Winkypop Silver badge
    Terminator

    Meat space shopping?

    Oh, how very quaint.

  19. Sirius Lee

    Shovelling shit

    Imagine all the people who lost their jobs when farm mechanisation happened or people who lost their jobs shovelling horse manure of the pavement when the advent of cars. Change happens. There are gainers and losers when any change happens. Some retailers will adapt to sell products we value or in a way we value and some will not.

    A bigger problem is the percentage of the profit from on-line sales that will to be going off-shore. But then EU has its investor community to blame. Investors here tend to see 'tech' as too risky so do not support start-ups and as a result we have no home-grown on-line retailers so choice but to use those from overseas. Yes, of course, some bricks and mortar outfits have grudgingly and slowly moved on-line. But not in any way that one could call innovative.

  20. Phil Parker

    It's not about the tech

    While El Reg is playing up the tech angle on this story, the reason the report was comissioned and then pushed so hard in the press is the retail industry moaning about paying a living wage. The large number of jobs to go is Tesco etc way of saying "We want to carry on paying less than people need to live on and letting the state cover the gap."

    Ask anyone who works for a big retailer and you'll find that the HR department has worked out exactly how many hours can be worked without disrupting benefit payments. Essentially, we are all subsidising the big retailers. If I were a cynic, I'd suggest that this is because they have our government in their pocket.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Milan Pharmacy

    I just visited a (random) chemists shop in central Milan, Italy, (just round the corner from Da Vinci's Last Supper)

    It had 3 pleasant lab coated pharmacy grads on the shop counter, but behind them the entire stock handling was two ginormous lego/meccano industrial robots - each whooshing up and down their 5 meter long by 3 metre high (x two sides L & R) stock area. They laser scanned the bar-code and delivered, more often than not slightly the *wrong* product to a small letter-box out in the safe/people side of the chemists'

    it were awesome! OK, the robots were totally useless, the two maintenance techies present had lappies & test-equipment all over trying to diagnose the fails. But in 6 months it will work. In a year there will only be 1 pleasant pharma grad, somewhere in the building & the Milanese will be directly paying(or giving their 'NHS equivalent ticket') to another robot and getting the meds. In 2 years the techies will be a VPN to india, remote diagnosis. In a decade. . .?

    fill yer Boots?

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