Compliance or bust: The Future of Retail’s Shift Workforce

The retail supply chain has been plagued by labor compliance issues for years, from sourcing to brick and mortar employee operations.

Take the tragedy at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, 1911. This was a direct result abhorrent working conditions.

These compliance issues are no longer common in the United States. Hourly-paid retail workers, however, are being paid less than the rest of the workforce. Deputy’s United States Shiftwork Index shows that shift workers in the United States work almost half as many hours (48%) as full-time employees. On average, shift workers work 85.4 hours per month, compared to the full-time equivalent, which is 164 hours.

The retailers’ obligation to follow labor laws and predictive scheduling, which protect workers from unfair pay, is responsible for the huge difference in hours worked. Fair Workweek laws are appearing in major cities like San Francisco and New York. These laws require overtime pay for more than 40 hours per week. Retailers who schedule workers below the 40-hour limit to avoid overtime pay find labor compliance extremely difficult.

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Are Retail and Labor Fair?

Retailers must adhere to a variety of federal labor regulations. Otherwise, they could face penalties and fines. These include:

  • To ensure workers get the right time for their meal breaks and rest breaks and overtime pay.
  • Filing, processing and approval of unemployment and workers’ compensation claims
  • To ensure Fair Workweek compliance, the company must keep track of employee scheduling.

Two-thirds of all global workers are made up of shift workers or hourly workers. The numbers are growing. These shiftwork-intensive workforces, such as retail, must comply with all labor regulations at both the local and national levels. Retailers must publish their work shifts at least seven to fourteen days in advance, unless employees initiate changes.

Retail Market Complexity: Labor Complexity Today

It’s not surprising that Deputy’s shiftwork Index found that American shift workers work an average of 85.4 hours per month while being scheduled to work 86.2 hours. This data shows how shiftwork employers and retailers are still adhering to scheduling and workforce laws.

However, the complexity of these laws is forcing retailers like to rethink their scheduling strategies. Amazon, for example, recently became the subject of labor disputes stemming from a lack in benefits and poor treatment of Sacramento employees. To learn how to make profit using Amazon retailing services, just visit i

Target was also featured in labor headlines recently after it eliminated night shifts from select stores. Target is facing difficulties in keeping up with its workloads due to the changes. Target also needs to quickly fix its workforce problems and in-store operations.

Target and Amazon are both implementing a diversity strategy to ensure a diverse workforce. Despite the fact that the baby boomers are retiring from the workforce, Deputy discovered that they still participate in shiftwork. Boomers work an average of 91.7 hours per month. This is almost 20 hours more than Gen Z (73.7), but on par with Gen X (94.7) and millennial (93.2).


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The Future Retail Workforce

The first step to labor compliance is to implement the right technology for managing shiftwork staff. Retail industry is often focused on new tech innovations in the context consumer experience. However, they should also consider how these technologies can be used to improve workforce management and scheduling.

Retail compliance should be a key focus for any company. If it isn’t, it could have serious consequences.


You Can’t Ignore In-Store

Retail’s go-to-market approach is constantly evolving. It is common to read about retailers changing, expanding, or reinventing their multichannel sales strategy. The second industrial revolution was from 1850 to 1914. However, the current retail revolution seems to be happening at lightning speed.

On my daily commute, I can see the revolution: a sea of people shopping on their mobile phones. It’s happening in my building. Online shopping packages are flooding the lobby. The commercial real estate market is also seeing shifts in physical retail space: pop-up shops, online brands opening brick and mortar locations; buy online, pick up in-store options; experiential shopping. This rapid, necessary, and unprecedented rate of adaptation is occurring.

The crux: In-store shopping is something you can’t ignore

Nearly all U.S. shoppers (99%) have shopped in physical stores in the last 12 months, despite online shopping becoming more popular. This is a result of new research, which was conducted online by The Harris Poll and Coldwell Banker Commercial. This data was derived from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. shoppers, which assessed Americans’ preferences for in-store shopping.


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This may seem obvious, but it is a huge boon for us in the commercial and retail real estate sectors. The survey’s key takeaways are holidays, support community, and personal connections. These factors help drive behavior.

Similar story: The Future’s Retail Store

  • Holiday shopping: It’s that time. Retailers have the opportunity to attract customers with convenience and special offers during the holiday season. Brick-and-mortar stores have the opportunity to offer unique experiences to customers and present options that are not available online. This includes personal assistance from knowledgeable associates or shopping in person for unique gifts. Over nine out of ten consumers (92%) plan to shop in a physical retail store for holiday gifts. Top reasons include:
    • Take advantage of discounts/coupons (55%)
    • Experience a product (50%)
    • look for unique gifts (49 percent); and
    • Find something special (49%)
  • Help the community: Buying in physical stores makes people feel good. Nearly four out of five shoppers (81%) feel that they are making a positive impact on their local community by shopping at local shops. Online shopping can offer many Etsy-esque handmade options. However, local shops often have similar personal and artisan products.
  • Connections Shopping is a social experience. The younger generation is more likely to shop in stores to spend some time alone (35 percent vs. 17% ages 35-plus vs. 35 percent ages 35+) or with their friends (33% vs. 20% ages 35+). You could say, “Come with us to check out my new phone and grab some food.” Both physical stores and shopping centers still offer a place to meet and share experiences.
  • Customers value in-store experience and personalized assistance. More than two-thirds of consumers (68%) say they prefer to shop in physical stores. 50 percent of consumers say they would rather spend less online to receive personalized advice or assistance from an associate in-store.

While consumer preferences for in-store shopping have changed rapidly, the shift from Main Street to the regional center was made over ten years ago. Our consumption habits change how retailers position their products, and this changes the demand for real property. This has a significant impact on both retail and industrial realty. There is still room for in-person shopping.


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Survey Methodology

The Harris Poll conducted this survey online in the United States for Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates between Sept. 24-Sept.26 2019, among 2,027 U.S. adult ages 18-plus. The online survey does not use a probability sample, so it is impossible to estimate the theoretical sampling error. Kristin Cockham can provide more information about the survey methodology including weighting variables, subgroup sample sizes and other details.


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