Retail Market Update Q1, 2020

January 10


So far in 2019, the Retail market in recruitment has continued to be a battleground to retain and attract top talent, with retailers putting a huge emphasis on how to retain staff more than ever before.

With the unemployment rate in Ireland more or less unchanged, there is no sign of the race for top talent easing off anytime soon. This has ensured that salaries have continued to grow slightly in certain areas along with improved packages and benefits in general.

The market in general also continues to be candidate-driven, with the best in the market – especially in the specialist areas – still in a strong position in terms of negotiating increases in salary and working conditions when moving into a new role.

The last 6-month period has seen a change in mindset, with a lot of candidates deciding to stay with their current employer rather than look at new opportunities. Employers are continuing to look at how they can improve the people side of the business more than ever before, with attractions such as work–life balance, further training, progression opportunities, and extra benefits.


Despite sales not growing at the rate of this time last year, they have remained consistent and in growth due to strong promotional activity. Salaries have continued to increase slightly in the last 6 months, even if not at the same rate as this time last year. The increases seem to be still happening in the specialist areas of Fresh Food, where the market is getting extremely tight for experienced candidates. Employers are prepared to go higher than the market rate for the best talent in these areas, not only to attract the best but with a view to keeping them in the business long-term. They are also more focused than ever in keeping their best talent in these areas happy, having seen in the last 18 months how difficult it is to replace these candidates when they leave the business.

Challenges in Retail

The market has not changed much in this area in the last 12 months, and the trends have remained very much the same with the most difficult area continuing to be Fresh Food specialist areas. While sales in these areas have not increased at the rate of this time last year, they have remained consistent and in growth due to strong promotional activity. While it is difficult to attract top-level candidates at all levels due to the current unemployment rate, the key areas in which retailers are constantly short of talent are Bakery and Meat and Deli departments, where product knowledge and preparation, KPI management, and HACCP/food safety experience is vital.

Another key issue in the market at the moment is location, as with it being very much a candidate-driven market, candidates are becoming far less likely to relocate for new opportunities and are also being more cautious of travelling any more than 30–40 minutes to work. This leaves retailers in smaller towns and cities with a very limited talent pool to choose from.

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About the Author

Paul McGing

Paul McGing

Senior Consultant - Retail 1 661 0444


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