Leading apparel companies have consistently added to payrolls and department stores have been shedding jobs. The long-term difference in hiring patterns between apparel specialty stores and department stores comes from many factors, ranging from a decline in consumer purchasing power to consolidation and a shift in retail market share. Department stores have developed a business model focusing on price and trying to lure customers with low prices and not necessarily high service. In the past decade department stores have gone through a prolonged period of consolidation and lost a significant share in overall retail sales.
A growing number of external factors, such as high gas prices and commodity costs, are affecting hiring decisions. Hiring managers are forced to go slow because of the uncertainty and volatility in the economy. Economists and analysts said part of the unequal retail employment trend was cyclical, citing a steeper employment loss for apparel and accessories stores than department stores and discounters during the heart of the recession in 2009, which caused the sector to have to make up more ground once a recovery began. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

The 5,000 plus retailers in Chain Store Guide’s Database of Apparel Specialty Stores currently employ over 2.1 million people. The 1,600 companies (including shoe retailers) in Chain Store Guide’s Database of Department Stores currently employ almost 1.7 million workers. Although executive moves are captured and changes are made daily, Chain Store Guide updates each company’s total employees on an annual basis. For total employee information and much more visit www.ChainStoreGuide.com.

Natasha Perry, Research Editor

Natasha has held several management positions in the apparel industry. She received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management from FL Southern College.

Please contact her if you have questions or comments.