Consumers’ Evolving Shopping Habits Mean There Aren’t As Many Jobs In Retail

Some days it’s hard to motivate yourself to go to the mall to shop, it’s just easier to shop online. We’ve all had those days, okay, maybe it’s just me, but still, tendencies like that are creating a problem of sorts for retail workers. The more efficient we’re becoming at buying our goods, the fewer retail workers are needed a new report shows.

Retail is constantly evolving, from shopping online to big box stores popping up in every town. But while those changes might seem great for consumers, they aren’t so welcome for retail workers, The Atlantic reports.

The retail industry added just 49,000 jobs between 2001 and 2013, meaning it really didn’t grow at all.

The Atlantic likens the rather stagnant growth in the retail sales workforce to two main causes: the Amazon Effect and the Walmart Effect.

One reason why shopping retail has become more efficient is that you can simply do it from your home. Instead of walking up and down aisles of the local department store, you can mark of each item on your shopping list with a quick click of the mouse. If consumers are shopping more online, there is less need for workers to be stocking shelves or working cash registers.

The Walmart Effect works similarly. Each employee at Walmart does the work of about 1.4 local retail workers, the Atlantic estimates. So, when a new supercenter opens a county will likely lose 150 jobs.

(The Atlantic)

(The Atlantic)

The most tell-tale sign that things have changed is the difference in job growth between retail outlets.

Department stores have lost more than 200,000 jobs this since 2000. Additionally, specialty stores, like book stores, computer stores and photo stores, have mostly disappeared from the retail landscape. Instead, big box stores have taken over, adding nearly 500,000 jobs.

The Sad, Slow Death of America’s Retail Workforce [The Atlantic]

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  1. CommonC3nts says:

    I never shop at walmart. It is dirty and very few of the workers speak english.
    Their prices are not better than anywhere else.

    I dont understand why so many people shop there.

  2. BikerGeek79 says:

    So, in other words, the amount of jobs that would have been added to the retail workforce were sucked up by Walmart. They also systematically undercut every small business in the area. This had the effect of forcing the businesses to close and the displaced employees sought jobs at the retail giant. So, Walmart gets all the community goodwill “Look we just created a thousand jobs!” and “We’re providing banking, clinic, pharmacy, grocery, electronics, homegoods, all under one roof! What a community resource!” while not saying that those employees came from the businesses that were under Walmart’s boot when it came down in the neighborhood, and that those exact businesses provided the exact same ‘community services’ that Walmart does. Only Walmart then underhires, understaffs, and underpays its employees to attract the lowest common denominator and encourage high turnover which keeps training standards low.

    Their stores are dirty, shelves bare, selection (of rare in-stock merchandise) poor, employees ignorant and mindless. It’s no wonder nobody wants to shop there when the option to stay at home and just order it online is right there. Given the choice between “Shop at a dirty, crowded, awful store and get something similar to what I want right now” or “order it online and wait a week but get exactly the right thing” I think more and more people choose the latter.