Sectoral Unemployment: Retail Trade Hit By Coronavirus
Updated : August 4th, 2020
Retail Trade is a significant sector in the modern economy. It employs a large number of people across various verticals from food to fashion. The market has players as big as Amazon to small neighborhood artisanal stores. You’d expect retail trade to be hit badly by the coronavirus, but there is a mixed record. What is the unemployment in retail trade looking like?
Retail Trading consists of establishments that sell merchandise to retail consumers without themselves altering the products. Even though some retailers are backed by production houses, for the purposes of understanding the sector, that is disregarded for our purposes. Retail Trade also includes non-store retailers like infomercials or catalog retailers.
Overview Of Retail Trade Sector
The Bureau of Labor Statistics informs that the sector employed 16.8 million people in 2018. It showed an unemployment rate of about 7% over the last two quarters.
The top occupations in this sector are Sales Workers, Supervisors, and Cashiers. Salespersons constitute the largest group of employees. Employees may be paid an average of $20 a week and work for an average of 30 hours a week.
Impact Of COVID-19 On Unemployment In Retail Trade
While not the biggest impact, which the food services sector felt, retail trade has also been hit badly except a few players.
Personal Care stores and health stores have closed down, laying off employees as have sporting goods stores and clothing stores. Nordstrom and other clothing retailers have furloughed employees. Fast fashion brands like H&M were already under fire even before the pandemic and the lockdowns have affected them all.
Electronics Retailers including Apple are experiencing a huge demand drop. With so many unemployment claims filed people have no money to spare. Bookstores and hobby/crafting stores are facing the same problem.
Some big retailers like Amazon, Gap, TJ Maxx, and Kohl’s have been slow to close their stores and have been reported to not take adequate precautions to protect workers.
Types Of Jobs Still Available
This is where the mixed news comes in. Supermarkets and grocery stores are doing alright during this period. Sales of food and cleaning supplies are at an all-time high and shops selling them, including pharmacies are open. Many of them are hiring sales workers and shelf stockers.
Although Amazon is famed for its eCommerce, it does have some offline ventures like its Go Stores. Them as well as companies like Whole Foods, Target and Walmart are actually hiring workers to cope with the increased orders.
The retail sector’s death has been predicted many times over the years, but it has held on well. In the short term, clothing and shoe retailers are likely to see the biggest losses until the economy equilibrates.
Though online shopping is rising in popularity, the in-store experience and tangibility offered by offline retail stores are strong. Grocery and food marts will continue to provide a convenient pick-up option over unseen produce that ordering them online brings.
It is likely that players like Walmart and Target will not have as many sales once the economy reopens. This may result in them laying off the many workers they are hiring now.
All this hits back at manufacturing sectors since orders get canceled when there is lowered demand, creating a vicious cycle of people not having enough money to buy from these establishments and further dropping demand. The government is attempting to keep up some spending by providing UI benefits and direct payments.
If you are a retail worker with uncertainty looming over you such as a pay cut or a furlough, then make sure you can file an unemployment claim right away. Some companies may have to provide paid leave so avail that if you or a family member needs to self-isolate.
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