retail industry was in the middle of a drastic period of volatility and consolidation. Stalwart chains including Montgomery Ward, Sears and others were in a state of flux, while department stores such as Macy’s and Bonwit Teller were forced to file for bankruptcy protection, or in some cases, liquidate entirely.
To a degree, the industry’s current hiring spurt is a reaction to the sharp downturn that began in the late 1980s. With a cautious eye on the bottom line, most large retail organizations were loath to spend money on recruitment and training programs as in previous decades. Now, as the economy has begun to improve, the industry has come to a startling conclusion: Its pool of talent has diminished and its image is tarnished. This sentiment is fueled in part by years of low wages at the entry-level and limited growth opportunities for a select few.
“Young people, black and white alike, have a less-than-positive view of retailing. It would probably place dead last in a study of the most desired fields,” says George Auzenne, director of professional development in the economics department at Florida A&M University. “To a great extent, they’ve [the retail industry] done it to themselves.” Recent years have seen an upswing on the part of national retail corporations’ efforts to recruit African Americans, say industry insiders. And the trend is likely to continue.
That’s because the industry knows that as the population of blacks, Hispanics and other minorities begins to generate more and more consumer spending, they’ll need the in-house ability to produce goods and services people of color will want to buy. Furthering the need is the fact that most retailers–frustrated by oversaturation and stagnant overall sales growth–are scrambling so tap opportunities in African American and other minority markets.
“If you really want to target the market, you have to have a diverse makeup,” says Albritton of Sears. “We’re on the way to improvement, but we as an industry have a ways to go.”
Many of the leading retail chains have set their sights on aggressive expansions through the next several years. And more retail stores mean more job opportunities. Two apparel retailers who are increasing their management sales force are The Gap and Nordstrom.
Toni Wilson, Senior Director of Global Diversity The Gap One Harrison St. San Francisco, CA 94105-1602 415-952-4400
Contact your local Nordstrom for more information.
Target Stores, a division of Dayton Hudson, is in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. The Minneapolis-based discounter says they have been hiring 60 to 80 new recruits annually. In 1997, the number of new trainees will more than double. As Target moves forward, it will need at least 150 recruits a year for the next several years.
Janice Payton, Human Resources Target 33 S. Sixth St. POB 1392 Minneapolis, MN 55440 612-304-6032
Home Depot, meanwhile, is planning to nearly double in size by the year 2000. The $20 billion Atlanta-based company, which currently has 561 stores, is looking to operate 1,000 in the next three years.
Lilicia Perry, Director of employee rela
tions Home Depot 2455