The retail industry has an image problem, and the National Retail Federation wants to remedy it.
NRF is launching an initiative called “This is Retail: Careers, Community, Innovation” to put the spotlight on the retail industry’s good qualities that often are unrecognized, especially by young adults thinking about their job prospects. Among those are the opportunities for lasting retail careers; retailers’ connections to communities at home and abroad, and the role retail plays in driving innovation.
“We will counter the myths about our industry with research and stories that show the true face of retail, that in fact retail offers richly rewarding and diverse career opportunities, is central to communities big and small, and that retail is at the forefront of innovation,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer, Thursday at the Global Retailing Conference in Tucson, Ariz.
He noted retail supports an estimated 42 million jobs in the U.S., or roughly one in four. “By fundamentally transforming the perception of retail, we will ensure the industry continues to thrive and grow,” he said.
To lay the foundation for the new initiative, the NRF conducted a survey with BIGinsight Research of 700 Americans aged 18 to 24 to discover what they prize in potential positions and employers. Forty percent of survey responders said they want their opinions heard; 31 percent want their decisions implemented, and 25 percent want the chance to “own” and manage projects.
When evaluating jobs, about 25 percent reported they’d like companies they are considering working for to have values that match theirs; roughly 18 percent said giving back to the community is important, and slightly less than 40 percent singled out technological skill as something they want to gain in their first job.
The survey also questioned college students about their job priorities. Around 70 percent said the top reason they’d be interested in a career in retail is because it is exciting compared with other industries; 43.6 percent said they are drawn to leadership opportunities in the industry, and 26 percent believed they could achieve a healthy work-life balance by choosing retail jobs.
During his speech, Shay said that young adults in retail would discover “you can make an impact right from the start, and it really is a meritocracy.”
He continued, “It’s easier in the retail industry in relative terms to actually achieve those [career] dreams inside the company.” And he emphasized the diversity of retail jobs, mentioning that there are auditing, accounting, computer programming and even animal training jobs within the sector.
Using a number of examples, Shay underscored that employees find advancement and longevity in retail careers; fulfill their desire to be part of their communities, and stay on the cutting edge of technology.
Carol Meyrowitz, ceo of The TJX Cos. Inc., has been with the company for 30 years, and Neiman Marcus Inc. ceo and president Karen Katz has worked at the department store since 1985 and began on the sales floor.
“Retail doesn’t only mean jobs. It means careers,” said Shay.
When Shay discussed retailers’ community involvement, he highlighted Wal-Mart Store’s Inc.-owned Sam’s Club’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and a Container Store distribution center in Dallas providing resources to its local Child Protective Services.
Turning to innovation, NRF pointed to how Topshop’s digital fashion show opened traditionally restricted affairs to up to 2.1 million viewers from 100 different countries, and to Burberry’s personalization of the shopping experience when videos are triggered by radio frequency identification chips in its clothing.
Kicking off in June, the home of NRF’s This is Retail initiative online will be thisisretail.org, where there will be industry news, retail case studies and research. “We will be conducting a lot of very timely original research,” stressed Shay. In addition to placing content on the Web site, NRF will be putting on events with industry leaders, communicating with policy makers to help them understand the industry — Shay has already sent a letter to Capitol Hill about This is Retail — and exploring trends around community building, innovation and job attributes that Millennials covet.
“Retail offers what young adults value in a career, yet too few are buying into the opportunities that exist; we want retail to be the first place young adults shop for a career,” said Shay. “Retail helps push boundaries in innovation; it brings goods to people across the world through charitable actions; it is the foundation of every main street in America, and it offers lifelong careers in areas such as real estate, software development, private investigating and even animal training and photography. ‘This is Retail’ is about telling that story.”
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews