By Matt Pillar, Editor In Chief, Integrated Solutions For Retailers magazine
Coming off a stronger-than-expected holiday sales season and promising late-2010 retail sales and profit reports, one might assume that retail jobs are poised to return to their prerecession levels. Unfortunately, the latest employment figures don't paint a picture of a hiring boom in our industry. Instead, they indicate a retail industry that's growing sales without hiring more workers.
Ahead of the holidays, 2010 retail sales were up 5.5%, and profits had climbed 7.5% over the same period in 2009.While fourth quarter sales and profit figures were not yet available at press time, there were no indicators that these figures would tumble. But retail job growth has not held pace with retailers' rebounds, contributing in large part to the jump in reported profit. Through the end of Q3 2010, retail had added only 80,000 positions, representing job growth of only 0.6% (this, in an industry that lost well more than 1.1 million jobs since the onset of the recession). Any seasonal labor expansion we'll see in the Q4 report is now drying up, leaving the retail labor pool to once again ponder its future.