Issues of the Week: Back-To-School Season, Worker Morale Sinks


With back-to-school sales well underway, retailers were undoubtedly disheartened to see that consumer confidence declined for the second consecutive month, according to the most recent report. The back-to-school period is crucial to retailers, second only to the holiday season in terms of sales volume. Entering this year’s back-to-school/college season, the National Retail Federation was already projecting a 7.6 percent drop in sales. Certainly, the apparent lack of confidence could threaten sales even more. Parents and students will limit their purchases to only what is absolutely necessary, and they will spend the least amount possible on those items. What impact will lower back-to-school sales have on retailers? Will we see more job cuts from struggling retailers in the wake of a dire back-to-school period? What does this foretell, if anything, for the all-important holiday selling season?


While monthly job-cut announcements have fallen significantly since the beginning of the year, there have been very few signs of turnaround in job creation. Most experts agree that the unemployment rate will continue to rise in the coming months, exceeding 10 percent before finally reversing course. However, it can be assured that the first inkling of a job market turnaround will probably bring a rapid surge in turnover at organizations throughout the country. Many employers are already expecting as much, according to a new survey by consultancy firm Deloitte, which found that nearly two-thirds of those managers were highly or very highly concerned about losing high-potential talent in the year after the recession ended. In addition to layoffs, many employers have decreased workers’ hours, instituted pay cuts, forced employees to take unpaid vacations and halted matching 401(k) contributions. While some of these measures have saved jobs, they undoubtedly left many workers disgruntled, frustrated and ready to move on as soon as the market improves. Which industries could see the highest turnover as the job market recovers? When is the best time for workers to stick their toe in the job market?


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