What Do Job Search Patterns Tell Us About the UK Labour Market: Data from Indeed Through 20 June


Searches rise for retail, hospitality and personal services roles as further easing of restrictions announced, but opportunities in these sectors remain limited.

Key Points:

  • Jobseekers looking for opportunities in reopening sectors, such as retail, hospitality and personal services. Bars, cafes, shops, restaurants, hairdressers and beauty see increased searches.
  • But vacancies in these sectors remain far below pre-crisis levels.

With the UK economy opening up further amid the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions, jobseekers are directing their searches towards a range of occupations where activity is restarting. Non-essential retail was allowed to reopen last week, while hospitality, restaurants and personal services are set to see restrictions loosened in the near future. 

Jobseekers hopeful of opportunities in retail and hospitality…

The top 20 fastest rising search terms on Indeed UK in the two weeks to 20 June is dominated by retailers, hospitality and personal services roles. As we have seen throughout the crisis, in a difficult labour market jobseekers are responding to news about where opportunities may be emerging. Several specific retailers appear on the list, alongside terms related to bars, restaurants and cafes. Personal services terms like hairdressing and beauty therapist also appear on the list (though beauty parlours are not among the businesses being allowed to reopen on 4th July). 

…but vacancies in these sectors remain well down

The bad news for jobseekers is that available roles in these sectors remain far below ‘normal’ levels. Retail jobs are running -64% below last year’s trend, while beauty & wellness positions are down -78%. The food preparation & service and hospitality & tourism categories are both down -88%. There has been little sign yet of hiring in these categories picking up towards anything like previous levels.

With these sectors having been among the biggest users of the government’s job retention scheme, their priority is likely to be to bring back furloughed workers before hiring new staff. Jobseekers looking for opportunities in these sectors are therefore likely to continue to experience a difficult market for the time being. 


For this analysis, we looked at the top search terms on Indeed UK as a share of all searches from June 6 to June 20. 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. 

To measure the trends in total job postings, we calculated the 7-day moving average of the number of UK job postings on Indeed. We indexed each day’s 7-day moving average to the start of that year (1 February 2020 = 100 for 2020 data, and so on), or another date if specified on the chart.

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