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What is the deal with retail employment?

By 25 May 2011 27

So I’ve been noticing two things around Canberra lately:

* Many closed stores / empty shopfronts

* Many stores desperately looking for anyone to fill positions

The last few times I’ve been in Fyshwick I was surprised at the number of closed stores and empty shopfronts that previously had long-term businesses in them. Then there are the many empty shopfronts in the malls that are simply boarded up (no “Blah Blah opening in May”). Belco has more then a few, as does Tuggeranong.

This is juxtaposed with a ton of businesses posting A4 sheets looking for staff “starting immediately”. A few are picky (“previous barista experience essential”) but most smack of desperation for any warm body to stand in the shop.

I’m just confused at how both of these trends can be true!? Have living expenses in Canberra risen so high that people on minimum wage have thrown in the towel and are leaving (hence the dearth of retail warm bodies)? Are the previous employees being locked in the empty shopfronts when their stores close?

How about around you… do you have empty shopfronts? Have you noticed the influx of A4 “Please work here” signs? Any insights are greatly appreciated.

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27 Responses to What is the deal with retail employment?
#1
rescuedg12:25 pm, 25 May 11

Your post is illogical. Canberra has an oversupply of retail space (Hence the DFO vs. Brand Depot debacle) The oversupply means that there are plenty of jobs going round and that there are plenty of empty shopfronts as 1- There is an oversupply of the same kinds of shops and 2 – There is an oversupply of space to put shops in.

#2
creative_canberran1:19 pm, 25 May 11

The need for labour is because:
1. Gen-Y can’t last in a job more than 6mths without getting bored. I know someone who worked at a local clothing shop, got bored, moved to Perth to work in the exact same chain for the same money doing the same task. Did the same moving from Sydney to here. Wonders why she has no money because constantly flying back to see family.

2. Retail work is akin to having one’s mind and soul castrated slowly and with the local anaesthetic wears off.

3. Shops tend to move people along once they reach 21, the full adult award only kicks in at 21. Between 14 and 20, they can pay much lower.

4. Shops tend to oppose corporate knowledge over time and move people along once they attain a level of competence. Competence is a threat to incompetent management.

#3
Calamity2:05 pm, 25 May 11

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

#4
Jim Jones2:16 pm, 25 May 11

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

+1

#5
satyr2:17 pm, 25 May 11

Creative_canberran, I’d be more open to saying that the mobility of ‘Gen-Y’ could easily be attributed to workforce casualisation, high demand and higher levels of educational attainment (and maybe a little of your point 2). Charactising an entire generation using lame marketing speak is unhelpful and ignorant. It’d be like me saying that all baby boomers are boring, debt ridden drones who are too risk-averse to leave their boring public service jobs of 25 years.

#6
EvanJames2:46 pm, 25 May 11

Of all the responses so far, Creative Canberran came the closest to posting some considered reasons in reply to the OP. The people arguing with him/her evidently forgot to answer the OP.

There is an oversupply of retail space, clearly. Probably some other issues, like way too many shops crowded into huge malls so people can’t quickly duck in to one specific shop, unless they work near/in the mall.

I too wonder how people could afford to live in Canberra on retail wages. I remember at Brand Depot, quite a few of the sales assistants commuted in from country towns.

Retail is boring, if you’re on the front line. Anyone with intelligence or drive will quickly move on to something better paid and more interesting. Also you are often dealing with managers or owners who are pretty awful at managing people, and so off you go.

Unemployment is low currently, enhancing the prospects of people who want to move up from retail.

#7
Avy3:30 pm, 25 May 11

Three words: Queensland Investment Corporation. Sky high rents (fixed costs) at a stable or falling income forces lower variable costs (e.g. casual wages).

#8
GenYdegeneratE3:38 pm, 25 May 11

Not that the views from a GenYer who works in recruitment (and has been there for more than six months) really matters, but, I’m going to attempt to shed some light on the situation…

Firstly I would like to address the statement about people being given the boot after they turn 21 in search for younger, ‘cheaper’ workers… I’m going to address that with a question – which age bracket do you think is the HARDEST for me to find work for? Hot Tip – not the Baby Boomers and not GenX. It’s the youngest generation who are suffering. Canberra is a unique market in that it’s not quite big enough to merit plonking a companies Head Office down in, nor is it big enough to merit having Regional Managers here permanently (granted, this is improving). This results in the attention from Regional Managers being spread out between Flagship stores in Sydney and new stores in Canberra. Who gets all the attention out of those two, do you think? My point is – companies cannot afford to spend the time with the younger generations getting them up to the speed of the people who have been in the industry for 10+ years; companies will indeed spend an extra few dollars an hour on someone capable of working autonomously from the get-go.
As for the actual topic of discussion (empty shops), there’s a tonne of macro and micro-economic reasons for this (GFC, anyone?), but lets just cast our attention to Westfield. Whilst it was incredibly generous of Westfield to spend millions of dollars on a new ‘super-mall’ for Belconnen which will service the district for many years to come… the money to facilitate such an expansion has to come from somewhere…. So, where? A rent rise ought to fix it! Yes, it’s only logical to raise our prices so high we end up with some fifty empty shops… the logic fails me too, don’t worry.

Other factors with Canberra are the government; handing out fat salaries and luring workers, who fly in like a moth on speed that just saw his first lantern. Oversaturation, tightening purse strings and not to mention an Australian dollar price which makes buying overseas that little bit more appealing (sorry Mr Harvey, it’s true).

As you can see I could write about this for days, because no one person could ever explain EVERY reason why there are empty shop front and lack of staff in the nations capital…

Brilliant topic for discussion though, very good.

Oh, and Campbeln, I don’t ever want to hear you complain about a burnt coffee from a café who had to scrap their ‘fussy’ selection criteria in exchange for a ‘warm body’ ;)

#9
creative_canberran3:56 pm, 25 May 11

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

#10
Jim Jones4:11 pm, 25 May 11

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

Based on this information, Gen Y sound like a pretty intelligent bunch to me.

#11
Calamity4:14 pm, 25 May 11

creativecanberran, I would think of a snappy retort but alas, I am a Gen Y and am bored of this conversation.

#12
teddyhb4:27 pm, 25 May 11

Jim Jones said :

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

Based on this information, Gen Y sound like a pretty intelligent bunch to me.

Im with Jim Jones on this one, why would I want to stay in a job that is completely boring when there are plenty of others that have equivalent pay that may not be as boring and might actually be enjoyable. You spend so much of your life at work, why would you want to spend that time somewhere you dont want to be when there are plenty of other options out there that might be better?

#13
amarooresident34:36 pm, 25 May 11

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

Turn that around, what exactly did the employer do to keep them?

#14
Erg04:37 pm, 25 May 11

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

Had you considered the possibilty that all of the short term Gen-Xers who weren’t interested in career advancement left years ago?

#15
beejay765:03 pm, 25 May 11

I didn’t actually read creative_canberran’s comments as Gen-Y bashing. Saying that someone can’t stand work that is akin to mind and soul castration, surely isn’t bashing? Isn’t that just saying they’re looking for something more challenging?

I was a job-hopper in my younger days. I put myself through uni with a string of devastatingly boring jobs. The only way to keep myself from diving under a truck just to break the boredom was by changing jobs frequently. Generally, a semester = a job. This was also helped along by inflexible working hours. Every time my timetable changed, my employers were mostly uninterested in allowing me to change my hours/days. Off I’d go!

#16
Mysteryman5:11 pm, 25 May 11

teddyhb said :

Jim Jones said :

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

Based on this information, Gen Y sound like a pretty intelligent bunch to me.

Im with Jim Jones on this one, why would I want to stay in a job that is completely boring when there are plenty of others that have equivalent pay that may not be as boring and might actually be enjoyable. You spend so much of your life at work, why would you want to spend that time somewhere you dont want to be when there are plenty of other options out there that might be better?

I think the point is that they move between identical jobs, expecting that the boredom won’t follow them, instead of moving on to something different and more interesting. I’ve seen it a lot amongst friends and acquaintances – moving from one hospitality job to the next, or one retail job to the next, often in different cities, all the while complaining about how boring life in [insert current city of residence] is. Not all of Gen-Y exhibit this behaviour. It just seems like a lot of them.

I always assumed it was a lack of ambition.

#17
MWF5:44 pm, 25 May 11

Calamity said :

creativecanberran, I would think of a snappy retort but alas, I am a Gen Y and am bored of this conversation.

No, you are bored *with* this conversation.

#18
creative_canberran5:53 pm, 25 May 11

Mysteryman said :

I think the point is that they move between identical jobs, expecting that the boredom won’t follow them, instead of moving on to something different and more interesting. I’ve seen it a lot amongst friends and acquaintances – moving from one hospitality job to the next, or one retail job to the next, often in different cities, all the while complaining about how boring life in [insert current city of residence] is. Not all of Gen-Y exhibit this behaviour. It just seems like a lot of them.

Exactly!

There’s one person at my Uni who has a resume a mile long including:
Dominos Pizza (Checkout) -> Woolworths (Checkout) -> [moved to Canberra] -> Borders (Checkout) -> Residential Advisor -> Medical Receptionist

There’s another person I know who over five years worked in hospitality for a couple before landing a more specialised job at a local engineering firm on better wage with more flexible hours.

If you compare these two, the first one would appear to employers as rather aimless, not showing any advancement in jobs and mainly choosing clerical or unskilled tasks.

The latter demonstrates a dedication to roles (he hated hospitality but stayed with it until something actually better opened), a want for progression and an aim in choosing to move into a sector related to his study qualification. It says he’s a longer term thinker and for a company, a sounder investment.

#19
Pommy bastard5:53 pm, 25 May 11

MWF said :

No, you are bored *with* this conversation.

“Of” is also correct.

#20
LSWCHP7:13 pm, 25 May 11

MWF said :

Calamity said :

creativecanberran, I would think of a snappy retort but alas, I am a Gen Y and am bored of this conversation.

No, you are bored *with* this conversation.

Oh thank you thank you thank you!! I was feeling a huge urge to do that….

#21
Jethro7:19 pm, 25 May 11

Pommy bastard said :

MWF said :

No, you are bored *with* this conversation.

“Of” is also correct.

“by” would also work :)

Oh, the fun of prepositions

#22
scorpio6310:38 pm, 25 May 11

Rents are far too high and Online and E-Bay purchasing has escalated, impacting upon shops in smaller cities and suburbs.

Business owners (smaller businesses not belonging to a chain) are complaining about the costs (super, wages, sick leave) involved of employing staff on top of their high rent in quieter areas.

Book stores are the first closing, many suburban shops come and go, Brand Depot never took off due to their location and it was suggested to the Brand Depot owners during their first year, if they had bothered to open up a fruit and vegie market, a supermarket, Newsagency, Best and Less or K-Mart, and decent range of food outlets for their Food Court, the Complex may have flourished.

The owners wife from the beginning that they had their own ideas for success and the centre was doing well?

#23
caf10:02 am, 26 May 11

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

This is a textbook case of Survivorship Bias. Very few people start retail jobs in their 30s, so you’re ignoring all the Gen-Xers who did come in and leave within 3 months. Check back in 15 years and there will be plenty of Gen-Y lifers in the same stores.

#24
caf10:05 am, 26 May 11

Jethro said :

Pommy bastard said :

MWF said :

No, you are bored *with* this conversation.

“Of” is also correct.

“by” would also work :)

Looks like bored of is slowly gaining ground…

#25
creative_canberran10:12 am, 26 May 11

caf said :

creative_canberran said :

Calamity said :

Gen Y bashing. How very original.

I speak from experience. In a store with roughly 30 staff, all the staff Gen-X or older had been there for years and though not that interested in the job, were interested in career progression. In one year, we had no less than a dozen Gen-Ys come in and leave within 3mths. Most of the time, it was just to try a different store, and their stated reason was boredom.

This is a textbook case of Survivorship Bias. Very few people start retail jobs in their 30s, so you’re ignoring all the Gen-Xers who did come in and leave within 3 months. Check back in 15 years and there will be plenty of Gen-Y lifers in the same stores.

No I’m not, and the rest of your comment makes no sense.

#26
caf11:33 am, 26 May 11

creative_canberran said :

caf said :

This is a textbook case of Survivorship Bias. Very few people start retail jobs in their 30s, so you’re ignoring all the Gen-Xers who did come in and leave within 3 months. Check back in 15 years and there will be plenty of Gen-Y lifers in the same stores.

No I’m not, and the rest of your comment makes no sense.

Yes, you are, because the Gen-Xers did that when they were 20 years old, which was 15 years ago.

#27
Calamity12:32 pm, 26 May 11
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