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Kronos Retail Labor Index: Fewer people seeking retail jobs in June

BY Marianne Wilson

Chelmsford, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index edged up to 4.2% in June from a reading of 4.1% in May. The June reading reflected sharp declines in both applications and hiring. (The index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.)

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the U.S. that make up the Kronos data sample made 33,473 hires (seasonally adjusted) in June 2012, the lowest reading since October 2011.

While the June reading was down, the level in May was revised up nearly 11%, leaving the trend over the first half of the year still solid as firms hired slightly more than 35,000 workers per month, roughly 5% above the average number of hires made all of last year and about 10% above the average level in 2010.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample fell 11.1% to 797,852 in June 2012, from a level in May that was revised 10.9% higher, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. Applications have fallen in five of the last six months, and the level in June was more than 150,000 below its level one year ago.

“The Retail Labor Index has averaged 4.1% so far this year, six-tenths above its level last year, suggesting more favorable hiring conditions for those seeking employment opportunities in the retail sector,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the analysis and write-up of the Retail Labor Index for Kronos Inc.

“This reflects not only reduced competition as the level of applications has fallen significantly over the last year but also some firming in hiring.”

Even with the drop in June, Varvares continued, hiring remains solid compared to last year, up 7.7% year-to-date.

“Overall, we view the recent readings on hires and applications in the Kronos sample as consistent with other labor market data, which point to a still gradual recovery in the retail labor market,” he said.

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Sears Canada taps CloudApps to track energy and waste data

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Sears Canada will deploy CloudApps’ sustainability performance management software across the chain’s 122 department stores, 48 home stores and 11 outlet locations. CloudApps said it will capture carbon, energy and waste data from the sites, encouraging site managers to be responsible for reducing usage.

Previously, Sears had a clear but time-intensive reporting process, using complex spreadsheets to report on energy use and waste management, according to CloudApps. However, the chain wanted to provide more people in the company with quicker and more flexible access to the data, allowing employees to rapidly analyze areas for improvement.

In addition to its reporting and analytics, Sears said CloudApps was chosen for its ability to measure store and employee performance towards sustainability goals. This level of accountability enables site managers to track overall and specific progress to see how their site is operating in real-time.

James Gray-Donald, Sears’ sustainability leader, said CloudApps will give responsibility to operations managers to limit their site’s environmental footprint.

“We spent two years looking for the right solution to bring our environmental data to life,” Gray-Donald said. “With the depth and breadth of analytics provided by CloudApps, site managers will have total visibility of what is being used; it is expected that performance incentives will be offered if they meet certain targets.”

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Walmart takes on Daytona’s high-banked tri-oval

BY CSA STAFF

The past few months have seen Walmart leverage its 50th anniversary with a wide range of tactics, but one of the company’s most visible actions may occur this weekend.

On Friday, long-time race car driver Bill Elliott will attempt to qualify for Saturday Night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway behind the wheel of the number 50 Walmart Chevrolet. Walmart is no stranger to NASCAR, but the company has never embraced car sponsorship the same way as Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s or Bass Pro Shops. Those retailers are fixtures on the NASCAR’s championship Sprint Cup circuit, but Walmart has always shunned direct sponsorship of the sport, choosing instead to engage merchandising activities that coincided with races.

That all changed this year as the company sought ways to leverage its 50th anniversary with core customers. If all goes well for Elliott in qualifying, the distinctive Walmart car with it 50th anniversary logo will rip around the 2.5 mile Daytona traffic with the rest of the field under the lights on Saturday night.

If things don’t go well for Elliott, the sponsorship effort won’t have been in vain. Walmart will have gotten a taste of the potential benefits of a deeper involvement in motorsports while also leveraging the affiliation with Elliott to drive sales at Daytona area stores. Throughout the week leading up to the race Walmart hosted driver appearances and fan events that included show cars and racing simulators.

“Walmart is the champion of the racing fan, and we are committed to providing customers with savings on authentic merchandise, as well as unique race time experiences,” said Walmart’s Daytona area market manager Corbin Norman. “We want to give fans affordability and accessibility, so they can enjoy race time with their families and friends.”

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