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Posted August 24, 2021

Why this Job Market is Ideal for Retail Job Seekers

By Grace Tino

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has drastically altered many aspects of the United States economy and labor market over the last year. While the pandemic generated an increased need for retail workers of all areas, from warehousing to customer service, safety concerns remained a top priority. With the vaccine widely available, businesses have reopened and demand for employees across various industries further increased. These events have led to an unprecedented amount of job openings within the labor market - but not enough active job seekers to fill them. Retail employers are developing new incentives and positive changes to bring more talent to the industry, putting power back in the hands of job seekers who can now take advantage of an exciting labor market.

The US economy has been bouncing back from the complications of the previous year at stunning rates, which means job opportunities are growing as well. In July, an estimated 943,000 jobs were created in the US. Even more shocking, there were about 10.1 million open jobs recorded on the last day of June- the highest on record. Of these jobs, about 67,000 were within the retail industry. Among the breakdown of these jobs by store, there were 28,000 added positions for clothing stores, 25,000 in general merchandise stores, and 13,000 jobs for miscellaneous stores.

The result from this imbalance is a shift in the labor market, putting the power in the hands of job seekers. To combat the labor shortage, employers have been rolling out new strategies that offer incentives for job seekers. Many businesses in the service and retail sectors are continuing to increase hiring efforts for seasonal jobs. As the holiday season approaches, retailers’ hiring efforts grow progressively more urgent, and that means more perks will be available for job seekers. Storefronts are counting on hiring large teams for the season to tackle long lines, customer assistance, and order fulfillment to keep stores running smoothly and customers safe from exposure to crowds. Additionally, the spark in e-commerce caused by the pandemic is still predicted to continue; retailers are also in urgent need of warehouse and delivery personnel to tackle the online ordering side of business during the holidays.

An important change many employers within the retail industry have been implementing is increased base pay rates. The average pay rate for restaurant and supermarket workers has currently risen above $15 per hour. The number of stores offering sign-on bonuses upwards of $500 to new employees has doubled since last July. Other retailers are kickstarting programs to benefit the education of their workers by contributing towards tuition, textbooks, and offering flexible hours. For retail job seekers concerned for their health, many companies are offering health services for their associates; services can include vaccination resources, telehealth/video consults with healthcare professionals, and plenty of personal protective equipment.

Many retailers are making revisions in the hiring process itself. Job seekers’ interest in a position can often be lost during a lengthy or complex job application and onboarding process. There are also increased chances of losing the interest of retail job seekers to opportunities in other industries, given the labor shortages occurring in other industries as well. To engage the right candidates more efficiently, retailers are reevaluating their strategies to create a more streamlined application process. Retailers are communicating more with their applicants throughout the process by supplying frequent updates as well as reducing “ghosting,” where applicants receive no rejection or alert about their status at all. Additionally, companies are altering their work environments to appeal to job seekers looking for a better alternative to their previous work. Many employers recognize the importance of retaining their workers and reducing turnover. Retail job seekers can now expect a smoother application process and positive working environment as some permanent results of the strained labor market.

If you are a current job seeker looking for your next retail position, AllRetailJobs has thousands of positions available. When conducting your search, keep some specific terms in mind that may indicate an employer is urgently hiring (and offering great incentives). Keywords can include “immediate,” “sign-on bonus,” “urgent,” and “seasonal.” Between the high number of open positions in the retail industry, exciting new incentives, and cultural changes brought about by the labor shortage, coupled with the urgency to hire for the impending holiday season, there has never been a better time to be a retail job seeker.