retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting piece in the San Jose Mercury News about how, "in a hypercompetitive retail environment, more national stores and some local chains are emphasizing that many of their employees are bilingual and can help customers whose first language is not English ... Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, Pleasanton-based Safeway and local chains like Hayward-based Airport Home Appliance, are among stores that recruit bilingual employees."

According to the story, "Such efforts, which also include signs and advertising in non-English languages, are more prominent in states like California that have diverse populations compared with other parts of the country, she said. More than one-third of California's population is of Hispanic or Latino origin, according to 2010 census figures. An additional 13 percent are Asian. Statewide, 43 percent of residents speak a language other than English in the home, compared with 20 percent nationally."
KC's View:
I'm sure that some folks will turn this into a political issue, but I think it all comes down to a statement made by Safeway's Teena Massingill to the paper...

"We are constantly interviewing and hiring for store positions. In that process, we stay alert to the importance of providing language interpretation for our customers. Being bilingual makes an applicant a stronger candidate. It is important to be able to communicate with our customers in a language that is most comfortable for them. It is a part of how we do business."