Lackluster 4th quarter hiring: A smart call?

Most retailers have announced 4th quarter hiring plans that are pretty flat to 2014 levels. (Not Amazon, of course.) I make the point — on this RetailWire comment — that the decisions may be short-sighted and reactive instead of adapting to the new stresses that omnichannel places on brick-and-mortar stores:

In a broad sense, retailers may be reacting to soft 2nd and 3rd quarter sales instead of gearing up for what is expected to be a healthy 4th quarter. (On the other hand, they may be satisfied that the slight increases in year-to-date hiring will get the job done.) There is also upward pressure on hourly wages as the unemployment rate falls.

But a word of caution to retailers: As you embrace more omnichannel initiatives like BOPIS or “ship from store” in your brick-and-mortar locations, you are putting more pressure on your sales associates to perform tasks unrelated to helping shoppers who have come to your store. The risk to good customer service may not be in the raw hiring numbers, but that the staff is being spread too thin.


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