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posted on 20 January 2018

December 2017 Retail Hiring Is Lowest On Record

from Challenger Gray and Christmas

Retail employment dropped 88 percent from November's total of 462,700 to 53,900 in December, the lowest December total on record, according to an analysis of non-seasonally adjusted Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

November job gains were revised higher to 462,700 from 451,600, 29 percent higher than November 2016, when 359,000 jobs were added. December's total is 59 percent lower than the 132,200 jobs added in December 2016.

Despite the plunge in December employment gains, retailers added a total of 668,400 jobs in the last three months of the year, a 4.3 percent increase from the 641,000 retail jobs added in the fourth quarter of 2016.

These are the highest gains since 2015, when a total of 708,800 jobs were added.

"As retailers find the balance between online and in-store experiences for consumers, the restructuring in this industry will likely include more job cuts and slow hiring," said John Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Walmart is implementing a "Scan & Go" system at 100 of its stores, eliminating the need to interact with cashiers. Similarly, Kroger announced they would introduce a "Scan, Bag, Go" app at 400 of their stores, allowing customers using the app to scan the barcodes on their items and pay

Challenger's ongoing tracking of store closures found over 9,000 brick-and-mortar locations were closed in 2017. Meanwhile, retailers announced plans to cut 76,084 jobs last year, according to Challenger.

"However, new jobs will be created as retail embraces advances in tech. While these devices might eliminate cashiers, more individuals will need to work the floor to aid customers as they shop," said Challenger.

"As retailers dip into other upcoming tech, such as virtual and augmented reality, additional workers may be needed. Retailers are also turning some of their locations into warehouses, creating delivery and processing jobs for their workforce," said Challenger.

While December's seasonal retail job growth was the lowest on record, holiday sales boomed in 2017. CBS News reported retail sales hit $598 billion, up $33 billion from 2016. Both Target and Kohl's posted strong sales gains in stores, and online sales reportedly grew an estimated 24 percent.

"The strong 2017 sales figures will likely give way to more job opportunities in retail in the coming years. Those with a background in customer service as well as a strong ability to use new technologies will likely benefit from this pivot," said Challenger.

Oct

Nov

Dec

TOTAL

% Change

2005

122,300

392,700

196,600

711,600

0.20%

2006

150,600

427,300

169,000

746,900

5.00%

2007

87,900

465,400

167,600

720,900

-3.50%

2008

38,600

213,600

72,700

324,900

-54.90%

2009

45,100

317,100

133,600

495,800

52.60%

2010

149,800

339,200

158,600

647,600

30.60%

2011

134,200

390,600

154,500

679,300

4.90%

2012

138,700

485,400

99,600

723,700

6.50%

2013

159,600

443,100

184,100

786,800

8.70%

2014

182,800

412,200

154,100

749,100

-4.80%

2015

183,300

399,300

125,700

708,800

-5.38%

2016

149,400

359,400

132,200

641,000

-9.57%

2017

146,400

462,700

59,300

668,400

4.27%

AVERAGE*

129,900

392,923

139,046

661,908

*Since 2005

Company

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Amazon

50,000

70,000

80,000

100,000

120,000

120,000

Target

88,000

70,000

70,000

70,000

77,500

100,000

UPS

55,000

55,000

95,000

95,000

95,000

95,000

Macy's

80,000

83,000

86,000

85,000

83,000

87,000

FedEx (Transportation)

20,000

20,000

50,000

55,000

50,000

50,000

JCPenney

40,000

35,000

35,000

30,000

40,000

40,000

Michaels

15,000

Kroger

14,000

Nordstrom

11,800

11,400

13,650

Toys"R"Us

45,000

45,000

45,000

40,000

12,500

Burlington Stores

12,000

The Bon-Ton Stores

13,500

10,000

1-800-Flowers

8,000

McDonald's

3,179

Williams-Sonoma

2,000

Fanatics

2,000

Plow & Hearth

400

Opryland

300

400

Kohl's

52,700

53,000

76,970

79,160

69,000

Walmart

50,000

55,000

60,000

60,000

GameStop

17,000

17,000

25,000

28,000

Sports Authority

N/A

N/A

N/A

3,500

Best Buy

14,000

N/A

N/A

Meijer

12,000

9,000

10,000

Radial

20,000

23,000

Party City

35,000

Gap

63,000

Versant Supply Chain

2,000

L Brands

4,000

Hickory Farms (Food)

5,225

6,000

Total

528,925

518,000

695,970

657,460

620,700

608,129

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