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Published
Apr 9, 2017
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US retail jobs dwindle in March amid brick-and-mortar closures

Published
Apr 9, 2017

Is the retail apocalypse upon us? Fashion retailers in the US are filing for bankruptcy and reporting sales declines at an increasing rate, malls are increasing vacancies, and consumers are more acclimated with the ease and comfort of online shopping than ever before. The changes in shopping raises a concern about the fate of retail, especially the fate of retail jobs in the country.


AFP

 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that retail trade jobs in March decreased by 29,700 from February, which saw 30,900 job losses. The new decline brings the total number of job losses since October to 89,000. Fashion retail jobs, in particular, fell by 5,800 and department store jobs dropped by 12,600.
 
Several fashion retailers filed for bankruptcy in recent years, including American Apparel and Wet Seal on more than one occasion, Nasty Gal, Aeropostale, Sports Authority, PacSun, The Limited, BCBG, and Boardriders, formerly known as Quiksilver.

Many retailers filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its business or to put itself up for sale. American Apparel, Wet Seal, Aeropostale, Sports Authority, and The Limited are a few retailers that found a buyer and Boardriders exited bankruptcy, which is all very promising but it has not halted the trend.
 
Retailers also posted sales struggles for numerous quarters. Macy’s closed several physical locations to reduce costs following its soft holiday performance, and Neiman Marcus has seen its debt climb coupled with quarterly sales declines. Both retailers were rumored to be acquired by Hudson’s Bay Company, with Macy’s denying the claims and Neiman Marcus confirming the discussions.
 
Consumers prefer to shop online for its ease and speed. Online sales overtook brick-and-mortar sales this past Black Friday shopping weekend. Black Friday sales surpassed Cyber Monday for the first time ever, but this is due partly to the selling day posting 31% more revenue than Cyber Monday.


Payless ShoeSource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week and plans to close 400 stores, which should surely impact the retail job market - Project Casting

 
In addition, BI Intelligence reported in March that US consumers are projected to spend over $632 billion in 2020, almost double the $385 billion in sales in 2020. The actual 2020 online sales total may be surpassed with BCBG Max Azria and Bebe closing its stores to operate entirely online. Both fashion companies announced a shift to online, but only BCBG filed for bankruptcy.
 
The retail job losses shouldn’t come as a surprise when considering the changing landscape. What is alarming is that retail jobs decreased despite the unemployment rate dropping to 4.5%, the lowest since 2007. The US added 98,000 jobs in March, which missed expectations by 82,000.
 
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of retail workers is expected to increase 7% from 2014 to 2024. Also, the US added 178,000 new jobs over the past three months, which economists believe is far above what is necessary to keep up with population growth. Though the addition of jobs remains on pace, the retail sector is lagging behind and it may worsen if brick-and-mortar sales continue to drop.

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