Up to 66 unemployed people in the UK are chasing every retail job, with vacancies often closed to young candidates within hours of being advertised, according to new research.
A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) also found two-thirds of those applying for jobs did not receive any responses.
A separate report by the TUC found that young black men have experienced the sharpest rise in unemployment since the coalition came to power, with more than one in four of all black 16 to 24-year-olds currently out of work.
The reports, out ahead of the new unemployment figures, followed similar studies showing a big rise in long-term unemployment among young people.
JRF researchers sent 2,000 job applications from fictional candidates, with at least five good GCSEs and relevant work experience, to more than 650 vacancies for sales assistants, cleaners, office administrators and kitchen staff.
There were between 24 and 66 unemployed people for every retail vacancy, depending on the supply of jobs in different areas. Vacancies were closed to candidates within days, and in some cases, hours, said the report.