Worker Crisis Ensues as Workers Say No to Retail

Despite an increasing number of retail job openings being posted on employment websites, interest in these types of jobs has dropped roughly 9 percent, according to job site Indeed, creating a worker crisis for the upcoming holidays.

Long looked to as the go-to position for disenfranchised workers, retail no longer seems to hold this same appeal this year, for reasons that are yet still unclear but also probably have a lot to do with the fact that the unemployment rate has dropped.

Tara Sinclair, Chief Economist for Indeed, confirmed this phenomenon to Business Insider.

“Our data shows that there is less job seeker interest in retail positions this year even as retail postings have grown on Indeed, and the major retailers are indicating that they are seeking seasonal hires equal to or greater than last year. This would indicate tightness in the market that can be a challenge for employers.”

This has created such a quandary with major retailers, such as Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Target, that steps are being taken by the giants to up worker pay and benefits so that they may entice job seekers to fill worker positions before the official beginning of the holiday season. If they aren’t successful, this could create a staffing crisis that would result in longer checkout lines and decreased customer service.

Pissed Consumer confirms that Walmart, long known for its history of low worker wages and poor benefits, has increased entry-level employee starting salaries to $9 an hour with an anticipated additional increase to $10 in 2016.

The prospective crisis is also compelling retailers to amend their policies on worker scheduling, now allowing them to work stationary pre-scheduled shifts on set days rather than on rotating days and times.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Walmart employee Yurdin Velazquez pushes grocery carts at a Walmart store on February 19, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The Walmart company announced Thursday that it will raise the wages of its store employees to $10 per hour by next February, bringing pay hikes to an estimated 500,000 workers. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

According to, hand in hand with the retail worker shortage is a warehouse worker shortage. Already retailers are seeing problems with both inventory being received into their warehouses and being shipped out. Just as in the retail worker scenario, prospective employees just do not seem interested, choosing to take advantage of other employment opportunities that pay more and offer more flexibility, such as new car-driving service Uber.

A shift of power has occurred from that of the last few years in which the country was taken hold of by an employer’s market. During that time jobs became scarce, layoffs were frequent, wages were decreased, and benefits were slashed. Now the workforce is finding that more options that are more appealing are available to them, and those options, by their perspective, do not exist in retail.

According to Frank Layo, a partner and retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, it is the younger part of the workforce that is now more resistant to taking on this kind of work.

“The younger workforce is more interested in working on their terms, doing something that they find to be more interesting than packing boxes in a warehouse.”

Under the above scenarios the worker crisis will not only impact in-store sales, but online holiday sales will also be negatively impacted as order fulfillment and shipping will take longer than usual due to reduced staffing.

SAN RAFAEL, CA - FEBRUARY 07: A sign advertising jobs is posted in fromt of a TJ Maxx store on February 7, 2013 in San Rafael, California. According to a Labor Department report, weekly jobless claims dropped 5,000 to 366,000 in the week ending on Feb. 2. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Out of all of this only one thing is certain: the holidays are fast approaching. Only time will tell whether or not retailers will be able to avert the current worker crisis and mitigate the damage that will be done to customer confidence and expectation by the fallout of not being able to get enough front-line people in place to run their operations efficiently.

On the other hand, it seems that the crisis may prove to be a good thing for potential employees as they are now able to negotiate better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

[Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Joe Raedle/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]