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Bloomberg has a piece detailing how hard it is to be a retail employee in America circa 2023:

"To be a US retail worker in 2023 means fielding an onslaught of growing American anxieties about everything from high prices to politics. Increasingly, some workers say the job isn’t worth the wages.

"Low pay, erratic schedules and monotonous tasks have long been a challenge for the nearly 8 million Americans working in retail, but the pandemic years have added a host of taxing new duties. Employees must cope with an uptick in shoplifting and customer orneriness. They manage online orders and run up and down the aisles to unlock items as quotidian as toothpaste.

"A 2022 McKinsey study found that the quit rate for retail workers is more than 70% higher than in other US industries. And the Covid years made the problem worse. Before 2020, turnover for part-time retail employees — who make up the bulk of the in-store work force — hovered around 75%, according to data from Korn Ferry. Since then it’s shot up to 95% and hasn’t budged, which has at times led to understaffed stores."

Bloomberg goes on:

"The declining worker experience follows a tough decade for retailers. Stores that survived the 'retail apocalypse' have had to find ways to cut costs and boost profits with fewer shoppers. For many, particularly small brands, that has meant reducing headcount, or finding other ways to bring in money. Physical locations increasingly double as returns and logistics centers, as companies build out hybrid online and offline services. The early years of the pandemic brought a slight respite, as people stuck at home spent their time — and stimulus checks — on online shopping. But that quickly gave way to supply chain issues that snarled inventories and the era of high inflation."

KC's View:

At some level, retailers have nobody to blame but themselves for this state of affairs.

Employees often don't feel valued.  They don't feel valuable.  They don't feel like  upper management believes that front line workers can or should be the differential advantage in as retailing environment.

There are exceptions, of course - retailers where employees stay forever because they feel a sense of ownership of their work environment.  But I think they are exceptions. 

Maybe retailers ought to try to figure out how to communicate to employees that working in a store can be work-with-dignity, and, of course, deliver on that promise.

Feargal Quinn had it right all those years ago, institutionalizing the fact at at his Superquinn chain, headquarters was just a "support office."  The action was in the stores.