OPERATIONS

Kronos Retail Labor Index: Hiring on the rise

BY CSA STAFF

Chelmsford, Mass. — Retail hiring is on the rise, according to the May report of the Kronos Retail Labor Index, a family of metrics and indices that analyze the relationship between the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector.

The Kronos Retail Labor Index rose to 3.7% in April 2011 from 3.5% in March 2011, reflecting both a decline in applications, as well as an increase in hires, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. (The index is defined as the ratio of hires to applicants 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 14,625 locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample recorded 41,097 hires (seasonally adjusted) in April 2011, up from 40,463 hires in March 2011.

The May report includes data for March and April 2011. The analysis and write-up is prepared by Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.

“The rise in the Kronos Retail Labor Index is encouraging for both the retail sector and the economy generally,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers. “The Retail Labor Index has gradually trended upward, albeit unevenly, over the last year, reflecting significant gains in hiring and a relatively flat level of applications received from month to month.”

Since the trough of the recession, monthly hires in the Kronos sample are up 40%, Varvares noted, indicating a significant bounce-back in retail hiring built upon the solid rebound seen in consumer spending and retail sales specifically.

“The flatness in the number of applications over the past year is consistent with the overall firming in the labor market. Fewer layoffs likely mean fewer new job seekers submitting applications to firms in the Kronos sample,” he said.

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Survey: Growing concern over food and gas prices

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago — In its most recent consumer sentiment and behavior survey, Technomic, the Chicago-based food industry research firm, found that 84% of consumers believe that grocery prices have risen in the past three months and 62% believe restaurant prices have risen.

Bob Goldin, executive VP of Technomic, believes that the rapid rise in gas prices, now at record highs, has raised consumer sensitivity to price increases in grocery stores and restaurants.

"Consumers are deeply concerned about the price of gas, which they expect to continue to rise,” he said. “As a result, they are very likely to reduce their spending on groceries and restaurant meals and increase their reliance on coupons and deals."

Goldin also notes that consumers have become more aware of total value, of which package/portion size is a key component, and urges food and restaurant companies to be sensitive to the risks of downsizing.

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Kroger stepping up in fight against organized retail theft

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Kroger Co. is increasing its efforts to stop organized retail theft rings, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The supermarket company now has an executive in charge of organized crime investigations. He oversees investigators in each of Kroger’s 17 divisions across the nation.

Last October, the Kroger team worked with federal immigration agents in Seattle to apprehend 32 people suspected of stealing $4.87 million worth of goods from six retailers over 16 months, the report said. Authorities say the ring shipped vehicles full of stolen goods overseas to be sold in Cambodia. Kroger lost $1.21 million.

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