Retailers Announce Most Job Cuts of Any Category, Says Challenger Gray Report

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The May jobs numbers might be good for the United States, however, the number of layoffs rose last month from the same period in 2016, with retailers slashing the most jobs of any sector, according to a report Friday from Chicago-based executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The number of planned workforce reductions announced by employers totaled 33,092 for the month, an increase from the same month last year, when employers trimmed 30,157 jobs. May job cuts were 9% lower than the 36,602 job reductions announced in April. This is the first month this year that has exceeded announced job reductions from the corresponding period of a year ago.

Retailers continue to announce the most job cuts this year with 55,910. Of those, 5,777 occurred in May, as the online disruption in the retail business model extends to areas such as grocery shopping.

Challenger in a statement:

We are now seeing the effect of changing consumer behavior in grocery shopping. … Grocery stores are no longer immune from online shopping. Meal delivery services and Amazon are competing with traditional grocers, and Amazon announced it is opening its first ever brick-and mortar store in Seattle. Amazon Go, which mixes online technology and the in-store experience, is something to keep an eye on since it may potentially change the grocery store shopping experience considerably.

Among the major retail job-cut announcements are Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), which earlier this year announced it was closing 68 stores and laying off 10,000 workers, and The Limited, which said it will shutter 250 stores and idle 4,000 employees. Among the reasons given for the retail job reductions are: bankruptcy, cost-cutting, merger and acquisition, and restructuring.

The number of announced job reductions in the retail sector so far this year is higher to date than at the same time last year, when 38,264 job cuts were announced by retailers.

Besides retail, the other sectors with the most planned job cuts are: health care (14,323), services (12,345), telecommunications (10,815) and industrial goods (9,343). Of those categories, only industrial goods is announcing fewer job cuts than the previous year.

Challenger said employers have announced 195,895 job cuts so far this year. That is down 29% from the 275,218 job reductions last year through May 2016.