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Retail industry loses jobs in June

BY Marianne Wilson

Jobs in the retail industry are up over last year, but down from last month.

Retail industry employment in June increased by 50,200 jobs unadjusted over the same time last year despite a seasonally adjusted drop from May of 25,800, according to the National Retail Federation. (The NRF numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.) Overall, U.S. businesses added 213,000 jobs over May, the Labor Department said.

Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in June were up 5 cents over May and 72 cents from a year ago, a year-over-year increase of 2.7%.

“This is another solid, robust payroll increase that nicely closes out the second quarter and affirms a very strong economy,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “It is consistent with how consumers feel about the economy and their personal finances. Nonetheless, while payroll gains should translate into increased spending in the coming months, if the trade war spreads it may become a turning point for consumer and business confidence that could affect spending.”

June’s monthly drop followed a revised monthly gain of 23,600 jobs in May, but Kleinhenz said the beginning of the volatile summer hiring season often brings large swings. Coupled with downward revisions to April and May figures, the three-month moving average in June showed a loss of 1,300 jobs.

June brought monthly gains in clothing and clothing accessory stores, which were up by 6,900 jobs, and non-store, which includes online, was up 1,700 jobs. Losses were concentrated in general merchandise stores, which were down 21,500 jobs; grocery and beverage stores, down 8,600; and electronics and appliances stores, down 3,700.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was 4%, up from 3.8% in May.

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Survey: Holiday shoppers favor retailers with fast delivery

BY Marianne Wilson

Retailers that offer same-day delivery are likely to have an edge over those that don’t during the 2018 holiday season.

That’s according to the third annual holiday survey by Dropoff, which found that over half of consumers are more likely to purchase gifts from retailers that offer same-day delivery during the holidays. In a related finding, cart abandonment due to slow delivery options for gifts is on the rise. Sixty-seven percent of consumers have abandoned a gift purchase during the holiday season for this reason (a 16% increase from last year’s surveys).

The survey also revealed the cost of gift deliveries that go wrong, with only 20% of consumers likely to purchase from a retailer again after a negative delivery experience. Also, regardless of who actually delivers the gift, be it a third-party delivery company or the retailer itself, consumers tend to blame the retailer for negative delivery experiences. Eighty percent of consumers feel it reflects poorly on the retailer if a gift arrives late, and 74% feel it reflects poorly on the retailer if a gift arrives damaged.

In other findings:

• Last-minute holiday shoppers are 78% more likely to purchase gifts from companies that offer same-day delivery compared to those who don’t.

• Seventy-one percent of consumers are “highly likely” to recommend a retailer to others after purchasing a holiday gift and having it delivered the same day.

• Eighty-five percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a retailer again, and five times more likely to recommend a retailer to others, if their holiday gift purchase can be tracked in real-time throughout the delivery.

• Millennials are 118% more likely to have paid extra for same-day delivery on a gift. They’re also 48% more likely to purchase gifts from retailers that offer same-day delivery during the holidays (59% of millennials vs. 40% of non-Millennials).

•45% of luxury shoppers are likely to have purchased gifts in the last year that were delivered same-day. That is 105% more than non-luxury shoppers. They’re also 23% more likely to purchase gifts from retailers that offer same-day delivery during the holidays (58% of luxury shoppers vs. 47% of non-luxury shoppers).

• Nearly a third (31%) of consumers have purchased a gift in the last year that was delivered same-day. Additionally, customer loyalty has shown to increase beyond the holiday season after experiencing same-day delivery for a gift. 75% of consumers are highly likely to shop with a retailer again after purchasing a gift that arrived same-day.

“Going into the 2018 holiday shopping season, it’s never been more important for retailers to understand shoppers’ needs when purchasing gifts,” said Sean Spector, CEO of Dropoff, a same-day, last mile delivery service. “Consumers plan to do more last-minute shopping than ever and have high expectations for quick delivery options to accommodate.”

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Starbucks needs to do more to eliminate racial bias, say advisors

BY Marianne Wilson

Four hours of dedicated training isn’t enough to wipe out racial bias among Starbucks Corp. employees, according to a report by its advisors.

The report, was written by Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Heather McGhee, distinguished senior fellow at Demos, a public policy organization. It comes approximately one month after the coffee giant closed its U.S. corporate-owned stores for an afternoon of racial bias training.

“We’ve been clear from day one that a single training alone could not address racial bias across the entire Starbucks organization,” stated Ifill in a news release announcing the study, which was done in consultation with dozens of organizations and experts, from racial and religious groups to legal and policy centers.

The report calls for Starbucks to revamp its hiring, training and promotion procedures. Among specific recommendations, it suggests that Starbucks conduct an internal audit to examine any customer service bias. It calls on Starbucks to deepen its connections to local communities, and consult with local experts about gentrification and discriminatory policing. It advises Starbucks to have an “independent racial equity consultant” create a detailed plan for future diversity and anti-bias training sessions.

Shortly before the report was released, Starbucks announced it is already acting on some of the suggestions outlined in it. Later this summer, the retailer will roll out the first in a series of new trainings on a range of topics that build on the May anti-bias session. Over the next year, 12 training modules will roll out – six targeted to managers and above and six for all associates.

Some of the topics include cultural perspectives, engaging with empathy, gratitude, building diverse teams and more. Similar to the previous training, 23,000 specially modified iPads will guide employees through the experience.

“It’s not solely diversity training,” said Roz Brewer, COO, Starbucks. “We’re addressing issues around leadership. We’re offering new tools. And ultimately, we hope to take our partners on a journey.”

Starbucks said it is also in the early stages of planning a conference next year for more than 15,000 store managers and leaders to continue conversations about bias and look for ways to be more inclusive.

“We want to thank the advisors and all of the people who offered their counsel, recommendations and advice,” stated Vivek Varma, executive VP of public affairs. “We’re listening and reflecting. We’re open minded and have more to do.”

Click here to read the report.

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