Who really wants to work retail?

Hint: It’s not college students

“Hello does anyone know a good place to work downtown? Preferably NOT retail” reads a Facebook job-seeking post by UGA student Gabby Boswell.

Gabby is just one of many college students shying away from retail jobs.

A survey by the National Retail Federation said four out of five young adults aren’t considering or pursuing careers in the retail industry, with that rate even lower among those holding a college degree.

One of the backbones of downtown Athens is the myriad of storefronts, including retail.

If college-students aren’t taking these jobs, who is?

Data by the Department of Labor indicates the average age of a retail worker in 2017 is 37 years old, with 28 percent of retail workers having completed some college and 15 percent having a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Something is driving college-students away from retail jobs, and it may be the practices of the employers rather than fault of the employee.

College students are part of the milennial generation that is eschewing retail jobs for other opportunities.

The country’s biggest employers are retailers and fast-food chains, contributing over 1 in 10 jobs in the US economy, but they have built their businesses on low pay, keeping wages down and unions out.

Part-time scheduling is a huge factor, hiring multiple part-time employees is less costly than hiring full-timers, keeping hours just below the part-time limit in order to ensure an employee does not warrant health care subsidies, sick days and other benefits options. It also makes an employee unable to plan ahead, forced to accommodate a schedule that changes on a weekly basis.

A 2012 survey of New York retail workers by Retail Action Project found that only 29 percent receive health care benefits from their employers, and injury rate in retail is higher than average for all industries.

Interviews with retail professional, Susan Masters and UGA student, Amanda Delaperriere

MIT adjunct associate professor of operations, Zeynep Ton, said that more and more retail employers have come to see labor as a commodity rather than an investment.

NRF president and CEO, Matthew Shay said during the 2013 Global Retailing Conference that, “If we don’t start to dispel these types of myths, then we won’t be able to compete for the high-quality talent that we need,”

Unless something changes, more and more millennial job postings will be like Gabby’s, desperate for a job, any job… as long as it isn’t retail.