Key Points:

  • Reopening of Primark stores attracts jobseeker interest. 
  • Rising searches for jobs at cafes and food retailers.
  • Summer jobs in demand.

The reopening of non-essential retailers has seen an increase in jobseeker interest, with Primark in particular seeing a 78% rise in searches over two weeks to 6 June (as a share of all searches on Indeed). The clothing retailers’ stores have been shut since the lockdown started on 23 March, and while it does not sell online, it is set to resume trading on 15 June with physical distancing protocols. 

Searches picking up for retail and summer work

fastest-rising job search terms on Indeed UK
This chart shows the top 10 fastest-rising job search terms on Indeed UK, 23 May – 6 June by change in the share of searches. Rank 1., Primark had a 78% growth on previous two weeks; 2. Summer, 57% growth; 3. Temporary summer, 52% growth; 4. Summer work, 47% growth; 5. Barista, 47% growth; 6. Subway, 42% growth; 7. Trainee train driver, 41% growth; 8. Cafe’, 38% growth; 9. Car sales executive, 36% growth; and 10. Warehouse worker, 36% growth.

Searches for summer jobs have also been rising, as expected at this time of year. With a number of coffee shops having reopened, searches for barista and cafe jobs have increased over the latest period. The fast food chain Subway reopened its stores in mid-May for delivery, and has seen a 42% rise in searches. Car showrooms have also been allowed to reopen, which has been reflected in an increase in the ‘car sales executive’ search term. ‘Trainee train driver’ and ‘warehouse worker’ make up the top 10.

Looking at the search patterns over a longer time period however, it is clear that the situation remains some way off normal. Search terms such as ‘barista’, ‘car sales executive’, ‘Primark’ and ‘Subway’ were attracting much higher relative levels of jobseeker interest prior to the lockdown and, despite seeing increases in the latest period, are only just starting to recover.

searches during COVID-19
This line graph shows the y day moving-average of shares of search terms barista, car sales executive, primark, and subway compared to all other searches during Covid-19. The data shows that car sales executive had the best numbers ending May 2020 at around 60%, Primark had the worst moving-average at around 15% moving average.

To get a broader sense of how Covid-19 has affected job search, while removing seasonal effects, we can compare current search terms with the same period last year. Searches for remote working and work from home continue to show large annual increases (the ‘remote work’ search term is up 294% on last year). Searches for supermarket jobs, farm work and driving vacancies are also up year-on-year. 

share of remote job searches has risen
This line graph shows the percentage of remote job searches on a 3 day moving average showing the share of remote job searches has risen from January to June.

Searches shifting away from supermarkets and farm work

Supermarkets, farm jobs, delivery drivers, maintenance managers, firefighters and volunteers all saw declining jobseeker interest in the latest period. Several of these job types were growth areas earlier in the Covid crisis but search patterns have now shifted elsewhere. 

fastest-declining job search terms on Indeed UK
This table shows the top 10 fastest-declining job search terms on Indeed UK by change in the share of searches, 23 May – 6 June. Rank 1. Asda, -31% decline on previous 2 weeks; 2. Farm, -24% decline; 3. Tesco, -23% decline; 4. Maintenance manager, -23% decline; 5. Farm worker, -22% decline; 6. Delivery, -21% decline; 7. Firefighter, -21% decline; 8. Courier driver, -20% decline; 9. Volunteer, -19% decline; 10. Primary school teacher, -18% decline.

Compared to one year ago, searches for jobs in the hospitality sector remain sharply down. For instance, bar staff searches were -87% lower than a year ago, while waitress searches were down -77%. Until pubs and restaurants can reopen closer to normal capacity, jobseekers are likely to anticipate opportunities in these establishments remaining relatively scarce. 


For this analysis, we looked at the top search terms on Indeed UK as a share of all searches from May 23 to June 6. We looked at both the change in searches versus the previous two weeks and the change versus the same period one year ago to account for possible seasonality of search patterns. We accounted for fluctuations in search behaviour by calculating the 7-day moving average of each term’s search share.