UK retail workers face 70% chance of being replaced by machines in the next few years

Retailer workers in the UK are some of the most at risk of seeing their jobs replaced by automation in the next few years.

According to a new study from electrical supplier ElectricalDirect, which analysed 20 million jobs from around the country, retail workers are some of the most at risk of seeing their roles replaces by machines.

Supermarket shelf stackers face a 71.7 per cent chance of being replaced by automation, coming second only to waiters who face a 72.8 per cent chance.

Warehouses across the world are already replacing shelf pickers and stackers with machines, including major retailers like Ocado, and ElectricalDirect says the rate of change will only accelerate in coming years.

READ MORE: Fears for shop workers grow as AI automation gains speed

Furthermore, shop floor staff are also set to be dramatically impacted by the rise of artificial intelligence and automation.

As seen with the boom in contactless shopping during the pandemic and the introduction of four of Amazon’s high-tech cashierless stores in the UK this year, shop floor staff are already being replaced by machines and face a 70.69 per cent chance of losing their jobs in the coming years.

The study suggests that roles which involve repetitive and routine tasks are much more likely to be under threat of being automated, threatening jobs further down the supply chain such as farm workers and even cleaners.

“No longer the stuff of fantasy, the technological revolution has brought within reach what many Sci-Fi writers long predicted – an automated workforce led by AI enabled robots,” ElectricalDirect’s director Dominick Sandford said.

“It may not look or feel quite how it was imagined, with COVID-19 ushering in many forms of automated services which may already seem like they’ve been here forever. However, in the long term, such huge technological leaps forward in the way our services are provided and consumer demands are met could change the entire nature of our workforce and our entire economy.”

Certain areas of the UK are also more at risk than others, with jobs in London having a 33 per cent chance of being automated on average, compared to Wigan and Doncaster which have a 50 per cent chance.

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