The New York Times has a story about what retail jobs often are, and what they can be. An excerpt:

“A survey of 1,100 retail workers published this month by the Center for Popular Democracy, a liberal-leaning advocacy group, found that only one in about 12 front-line retail workers were in jobs considered of high quality — meaning that they were employed full time, were paid at least $15 an hour and were offered health insurance and at least one form of paid leave. One in three had not gotten a raise in the last two years. Almost half had received some form of government assistance in the previous year.

“Perhaps policymakers believe that undesirable sales jobs are inevitable features of the economic landscape; that the lot of poorly paid cashiers results from powerful market forces like automation and globalization over which they have little control. The truth is that retail work doesn’t have to be so unpleasant. A quick look around Europe underscores that retailers can profit, even thrive, and still provide their workers a better deal.”

You can read the entire story here.

KC's View: I’m not sure that the European comparisons are entirely apt, since there is a different social and economic structure there. But I do continue to believe that it is with people that bricks-and-mortar retailers can differentiate themselves; if a retailer takes a lowest common denominator approach to staffing, driving down labor costs as a prime profitability tactic, then they’re going to get exactly what they pay for.