Retail's popularity is bouncing back.
Retail's popularity is bouncing back. AAP

Retail jobs are bouncing back

RUMOURS of the demise of the retail sector may have been greatly exaggerated, with labour force figures showing the sector added 47,000 jobs in the year to May.

While the rise of the internet and online shopping hasn't helped the bricks-and-mortar retail sector, the labour data shows there may be approaching an equilibrium of sorts, with consumers finding preferences around how they make certain types of purchases - online isn't a catch-all, with physical retailers still playing an important role.

The trump card the bricks-and-mortar retailers hold is the customer experience. Retailers who ensure their customers enjoy making their purchase will be the ones who ensure return custom and continued success in a reinvented sector.

The same can be said of any industry - treat your customers well and your business will grow, and with it too will your need for new employees.

That said, positions relating directly to e-commerce and online retail are growing more strongly than store-based positions.

What does that mean for employment in the industry? Looking again at the labour force figures, adding 47,000 jobs in a year means more than a few retailers are getting it right. They need more staff because they are making more sales, be it online or in person.

Traditionally the retail sector has been an employment sanctuary for youth with teens making up a significant portion of staff in major retailers and department stores, largely due to their flexibility.

Consumer confidence has returned almost to pre-GFC levels and, combined with historically low interest rates, has contributed to the returned strength in the retail sector.

Given the more positive inputs, the outlook for retail employment has improved. ABS forecasts annual growth of 1.5% by November.

If you're already working in retail, here's a hot tip - don't do like Lacoste salesman Wade Groom.

He lost his job after posting a photo of his pay cheque on social picture sharing service Instagram, and complaining about his difficulties in balancing New York's high cost of living with his $15 an hour wage (plus 3% commission).



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