Walmart has announced that it will cover 100 percent of the college tuition and book expenses for its associates starting August 16. This is in an effort to reduce student loan debts. Walmart, America’s largest private employer, will eliminate its $1-per-day fees for associates who enroll in the Live Better U education program. The company announced that approximately 1.5 million Walmart associates and their Sam’s Club subsidiary can learn new skills and get college degrees.
Total Retail’s Take: First of all, we congratulate Walmart for this major financial investment in the futures of its associates. Walmart will invest nearly $1 billion in the next five-years for career development and training for its employees. The program will not only benefit the community, but it should also bring Walmart business benefits. Walmart has positioned itself to be an attractive employer in a competitive labor market by offering job opportunities for both its associate staff and job seekers.
The retail industry has suffered from high turnover rates for many years. This problem was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Walmart can save money on training and employee recruitment costs by investing in its employees’ education. This will help to build loyalty and create a more productive associate base that will ultimately improve the customer experience. In their quest to attract and retain high-quality workers, there are still significant stakes between Walmart, Target, Amazon.com and Walmart. Walmart might have gained an advantage in this competition with its latest announcement.
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Apple Stores Require Masks for Staff and Shoppers
In response to an increase in COVID cases, Apple will reinstate a mask requirement in most of its U.S. retail outlets for customers and employees. In a memo obtained from Bloomberg News, the company informed its retail staff about the decision Wednesday. Apple began requiring masks in select stores earlier this month. The company also extended the deadline for returning to work for corporate employees. Apple also started requiring masks from customers in certain counties, based on local guidelines. Apple will now require masks for customers and employees in more than half its 270 U.S. retail stores.
Total Retail’s Consideration: As the number of people infected with the coronavirus is on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who have been vaccinated for the virus wear masks indoors in areas where there is high or substantial transmission. Retailers will be required to create policies regarding the use of masks in stores for both customers and employees. Apple has taken the initiative to require masks at select locations in accordance with local guidelines. This is a controversial issue that retailers hoped they wouldn’t have again to face after the abatement and rise in vaccination rates earlier this year. The retailers were hoping for a “return of normal,” where in-store customers would be free to wear masks if necessary. Although Apple was the first retailer to reinstate mask requirements at its stores (although not all), it is only a matter time before other companies do the same. What impact will this have upon foot traffic and sales in-stores, which are on the rise? These are difficult questions to answer, especially as retailers prepare for the Q4 holiday season which is not far away.
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