Opportunities Overflow in the Fast-Paced Retailing Industry
Auzenne, George R., Diversity Employers
For African Americans, retailing is a growth opportunity. There are certain jobs available in retailing that are generic to all modern business organizations. Here we refer to such job categories as: accounting, finance, data processing, management of information, and security. Retailing offers excellent opportunities in these categories, but the professional "pure" retail jobs are those jobs at the core of retailing, those that involve retail management, the buying and merchandising functions, and distribution, logistics, and transportation. It is these categories which often constitute what is meant by "retailing." For the nation's large retailers, the strategic and efficient management of these functions is crucial to survived in a very competitive environment - and it is in these functions that opportunities are plentiful.
Retailing, seemingly all often overlooked sector in assessing the economic viability of a nation (manufacturing and productivity, issues surrounding the manufacturing process have usually been given priority in consideration), has now attained international visibility. Driven by communications technology that :permits the instantaneous exchange of information and new free-market economies, consumer demand is up across the entire globe and much of that demand is for American goods. As stated by Deloitte & Touche, LLP in a special report for Stores magazine, "Worldwide, economic development has increased demand for Western goods, creating a homogenized global marketplace."(Stores, Section 3, January 1998). American goods are to be found in American retail outlets throughout the world, and American brands retain high appeal across the globe. It is no accident that, according to Deloitte & Touche, LLE of the top 200 retailers in the world, American retailers occupy the top spot with 77 on the list of 200, or 39%. Japan is a distant second with 14%. Wal-Mart is the largest global retailer with Sears occupying the second spot. In fact, Wal-Mart, according to Deloitte & Touche, made more in profits ($3.1 billion) than a third of the retailers were able to generate in sales.
Domestically, the overall employment rate has remained unusually high at 96% for most of 1998 and that bodes well for consumer spending and for retail sales. At the heart of our economy are millions of daily transactions involving the buying and selling of goods and services. Whenever you buy something, you participate in retail. The intriguing converse. of your participation is that as many as 100 people were required to make good or service available to you. It is here, in the selling side that employment opportunities are better than ever. While consumer spending fluctuates with other economic indicators (interest rates, employment, inflation, etc.), the purchasing of goods and services never disappear completely. Therefore even in difficult economic times, food, clothing and other necessities of life must be bought; and even in hard times, people in developed economies still will purchase luxury goods. This truism generates the need for ever more sophisticated retailers.
For years, the people who operated the retail businesses, the managers who supervised the inventory, managed the stores, did the buying of the goods you bought in the stores, and were in positions of authority in retailing, were not African Americans. The level at which African Americans participated was mostly confined to the consumer side - in short, African Americans did a lot of the buying, but were almost invisible on the other side of the counter, with the exception for the sales floor. As a result, there is still the misconception that retailing involves only sales associates jobs and those jobs are the only jobs available to African Americans. The reality is considerably different. Not only are there many African Americans in decision-making positions in retailing, but there are now African-American markets as the demographics of our country change. …