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Report: New York investigating Macy’s, Barneys over racial profiling claims

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The attorney general of the state of New York is investigating Macy’s and Barneys following complaints from black customers that they were stopped by police after making expensive luxury purchases, according to the New York Daily News. The local New York media has dubbed the practice “shop-and-frisk.”

The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters on Monday to both retailers seeking information on their policies for stopping, detaining and questioning customers based on race, the report said, and gave them Friday to comply.

Barneys CEO Mark Lee said that Barneys employees had no part in the two incidents that set off the controversy, Reuters reported.

"We believe that no Barneys employees were involved in those incidents," Lee said after a meeting in Harlem with civil rights leader Al Sharpton and members of his National Action Network, according to the report. "No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities."

Barneys and the New York City Police Department were named in a lawsuit filed by a Queens man detained by police in April for two hours after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt. He was later released without being charged. Another Barneys shopper said she was surrounded by four undercover police officers in February after leaving with a $2,500 Celine handbag she had purchased.

Two Macy’s shoppers have made similar complaints.

In 2005, Macy’s paid $600,000 to settle similar allegations that many of the chain’s New York stores had targeted blacks and Latinos for particular scrutiny of theft, according to the New York Attorney General’s office.

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Wal-Mart kicks off holiday with employee promotions

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Gearing up for the holidays, Wal-Mart announced that it expects to promote more than 160,000 associates to jobs with higher pay and more responsibility this year, including 25,000 promotions during its fourth quarter.

"Our success from day one is a direct result of our associates and the hard work they do in taking care of our customers. We are proud to provide our people with additional opportunities for career growth and greater economic security for their families," said Bill Simon, Wal-Mart U.S. president and CEO. "Like most Americans, our associates want good jobs and access to a better life. Whether you are a cashier in Charlotte, or a stocker in Dallas or an assistant manager in Los Angeles, Walmart wants to see you succeed."

The promotions are in addition to Wal-Mart’s announcement in September to move 35,000 associates from temporary to part time and another 35,000 associates from part-time to full-time by the end of the year.

Also this year, as part of an effort to give greater flexibility to employees, Wal-Mart is providing associates with access to open shifts, giving them the opportunity to pick up extra hours that fit with their personal schedules. The company is also providing priority status for existing employees to fill open positions, so current associates have the first opportunity to apply for open store positions, and access to supervisor roles at stores throughout the country.

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SAP survey: Retailers see lack of skilled managers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Waldorf, Germany – Retailers see a need for functional competencies leaning toward technology and data skills, even more than general business and people management. But a new survey of 76 retail managers from top retailers conducted by SAP during the recent SAP Retail Forum North America in Dallas, Texas revealed that 84% of retailers are worried that it will be challenging to find employees with these skills.

Exacerbating the problem is the overall hiring trend: 93% of survey respondents said hiring will not decrease during the next two to three years. When asked to specify which skills are in high demand, retailers indicate they are focused on filling management-level roles that have a strategic impact on the business, such as understanding and applying business analytics and big data in retail (80%), optimizing the retail business for omni-channel commerce (72%), and analyzing consumer buying behavior for improved operations (55%).

Within these functional competencies, 97% of the retailers surveyed are aware of the challenge of finding and training employees for new skill sets. Retailers plan to approach this challenge using a mix of activities. The majority, 75%, plan to hire new people from outside the organization to fill these roles, if they can find them. More than half said they plan to use in-house educational resources or organically develop new skills through experience and training. And, 53% plan to offer external education opportunities to current employees to improve skills.

Other skills of note that are top of mind for retailers include mobile commerce management (50%), merchandise buying/planning (37%), and digital and social branding skills (37%).

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