Getting calls and emails from those getting laid off isn’t unusual in the recruiting business, but I’m seeing more and more from one industry, retail. As brick and mortar stores close due to the rise of ecommerce, market research groups at companies and vendors in the store-based retail industry are feeling the pinch. Slice Intelligence estimated that Amazon, the #1 ecommerce company, accounted for 43 cents of every dollar spent online in the nation last year. The stock price of Amazon surged 50% over the past twelve months and Amazon is the ninth largest employer in the U.S. with 341,000 employees.

In June 2000 only 22% of Americans had made a purchase online. Pew Research Center reported in June of 2016 80% of consumers shop online with 43% shopping “weekly” or a “few times a month.” Fifteen percent of buyers purchase online on a weekly basis. The Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales report shows transactions at non-store retailers up 11.9% year over year while department store sales were down 6.4%. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were down 1.4% and appliance stores saw a 3.8% decrease. If you are working in brick and mortar retail, scary statistics for your long term career health.

Wait a minute! Let’s keep this in perspective. Pew Research also reported that non-store transactions between January and November of 2016 were 11% of all retail sales. So even though online sales are growing faster than brick and mortar store sales, the bulk of all shopping is still happening in-person.

What does this mean for your career?

  • Seek out every opportunity to work in online analysis and research. Make sure you have well-rounded quantitative methodologies and analytics.
  • Make sure your skills are transferable to other industries, working across primary, secondary and syndicated research.
  • Stay abreast of what’s happening in the industry, your company’s long term goals and the viability of a spot for you with your company in five years.
  • Find a way to work with syndicated data and big data. Take a Coursera class on R or managing and organizing large data sets. Get some statistical skills to supplement your terrific quantitative research skills.
  • Not all organizations are giving up on traditional primary research and there still are retailers that dedicate resources to research, just make sure your company is one of them.

Want to discuss your career further? Give me a call or email me your resume, Smith Hanley Associates Executive Recruiter, Lindsey Bartlett, at 312.589-7586 or

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