This article examines employment patterns in British retailing during the 1980s. It focuses on two debates central to contemporary economic sociology: the flexibility thesis and theories of skill and technical change. The data derive fiom the ESRC's Social Change and Economic Life Initiative and represent a sample of 72 retailing establishments fiom six localities in Britain. The article reveals that technological change had not produced much in the way of deskilling: rather, it had enskilled the work of already qualified and trained employees. Whilst part-time employment had increased in many stores, there was little evidence of any significant growth of other kinds of peripheral labour.