The recent recession hit the merchandizing sector hard and made a significant impact on retail hiring. Many retailers reduced their team sizes, and overall, industry employment fell dramatically. Thankfully, the effects of the recession gradually began to taper off. In 2012 and 2013, the retail industry started to show significant signs of improvement. Businesses began hiring again as shoppers returned in droves. Then—just when the marketplace began to look predictable again—the unexpected happened: winter arrived.
The winter of 2013/2014 hasn't been just any winter, either. Record-breaking cold and extreme snowfall hit the American Midwest and the Great Lakes region; a series of polar vortices cascaded down as far as Kansas, and New York City battled through its snowiest winter ever. In February, Chicago residents experienced a rare thunder-filled blizzard. Meanwhile, the unprecedented drought in California continued.
The retail industry depends on somewhat predictable weather patterns as it estimates sales volumes and plans ahead for seasonal merchandise shipments. Retail hiring, therefore, indirectly depends on the weather, too. Unfortunately, the extreme winter season curtailed efforts to increase retail hiring. Hazardous road conditions meant that deliveries failed to arrive, and shoppers stayed indoors to avoid frostbite.
Spring merchandise is ready for the shelves, but half the country's residents are still buried in snow. That's disappointing news if you're looking for a job in retail. Still, there is hope. If you take the following tips into account as you peruse job openings, you may find yourself employed before spring:
- Keep an eye on retail hiring at outlet malls. These shopping centers are a rapidly expanding section of the industry, and insiders expect that trend to continue.
- If you have technology experience, consider retail app development. A major proportion of retailers have dedicated apps, and many other stores have plans to develop apps in 2014. If you can combine your retail and your technological or design skills, you may find employment in unexpected departments.
- Look for opportunities in innovation. Amazon isn't the only company with grand delivery plans; Verizon, for example, will soon provide same-day delivery to its customers in the Washington area. As the economy recovers, businesses tend to develop renewed interest in innovation, so if you're a resourceful person, take those skills with you into an interview.
In addition, it's important not to forget about retail hiring at online corporations like Amazon.com. Amazon, which has weathered every economic storm since its inception, plans to launch a number of brand-new ventures in 2014. The online megastore's model is based strictly on inside sales: most orders pass on to Amazon's regional fulfillment centers, where they're packed and shipped to eager customers. In February 2014, Amazon announced plans to hire circa 2,500 people at six sites across the country.
The economic upswing has been good for online retailers and store-based retailers alike. Winter has had a dampening effect on recovery, but overall, the industry is still in recovery mode. As 2014 continues, retail hiring is likely to increase. One question remains: are you ready to find your dream job?
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