More Retail Job Losses To Come...

NBC News: Retail Pain Is Plain in March Jobs Report

JC Penney employs as many people as the entire coal mining industry, about 100,000 (and declining). Maybe we should start paying more attention to the hits retail is taking, as seen in today’s jobs report.

While many economists called the March numbers from the Bureau of Labor — with a sharply lower number of jobs created than anticipated, but the lowest unemployment rate since May 2007 — muddled, one trend was clear: traditional brick-and-mortar retail has reached a tipping point.

“We know this is a trouble spot,” said Mark Hamrick,’s senior economic analyst. “We know that job cut announcements were the top category in the first quarter. That just means there’s more pain to come.”

Retail is a huge force in the labor market, accounting for as many as one in four jobs, according to the National Retail Federation. The sector shed 30,000 jobs in March, including a falloff of 35,000 in general merchandise stores alone, following the loss of 26,000 retail jobs in February.

“We’re seeing a transition towards ecommerce,” said Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “Amazon has really caused a change in the way many people shop.” The internet retail giant has said it will hire 100,000 U.S. workers this year, mostly in warehouses and customer service…


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It’s becoming too expensive to deal with other humans one-on-one.

Will half the country end up working in call centers, or (I suppose) is that done mostly in other countries?

Most retail jobs have a pretty bad reputation - poor pay, dead-end, no respect, etc.

I think even without Amazon, there were probably too many stores out there, too many Wal-Marts, Targets, Claire’s, Gaps, etc. Maybe we’ll end up with too few, and then there will be a retail boom, and analysts will rediscover that people often like to go shopping in person.

What’s funny is that I don’t find good deals that often on Amazon. When I do, it’s often used books for under $1 (plus $4 shipping). The deals I do find are mostly from third party sellers and not Amazon itself, though these sellers may have Amazon hold their inventory and ship it for them. (I wonder how much warehouse space Amazon uses for this, compared to their own space. But that’s for a different discussion.)

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Amazon is often not the cheapest source. But it is very convenient , very reliable and if you use their credit card you get a 5% discount. We now pay sales tax in my state, part of a deal to put more fulfillment centers in the state. But that 9.25% increase in cost has not reduced my Amazon purchases.

Wal Mart has huge potential as an on-line competitor to Amazon. They have the merchandise but their www site is chaotic , it is often impossible to locate what you want. I am following WalMart to see if they ever get serious about their effort there. If so they could be one of the few B&M stores still around in 15 years or so.