People don't want to work at stores like Target and Macy's — and it's creating a huge problem for the industry

  • Brick and mortar retailers are facing a staffing crisis as they enter the holiday season. 
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 757,000 retail job openings across the country in July, which is about 100,000 more than the same time a year ago. The number of openings surpassed the number of hires from March through June for the first time in a decade, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
  • As a result, retailers have been forced to offer more attractive compensation and benefits to encourage workers put off by part-time jobs. 

The holiday season is creeping closer but some of America's biggest retailers could find themselves understaffed. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 757,000 retail job openings across the country in July, which is about 100,000 more than a year ago. The number of openings surpassed the number of hires from March through June for the first time in a decade, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

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8 insider facts about shopping at Target
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8 insider facts about shopping at Target

Target has a state-of-the-art forensics program to catch shoplifters, among other things

Apparently CSI: Target is a thing.

The retail chain runs two forensic labs, one in Minneapolis and the other in Las Vegas. On its website, Target said its investigators solve cases through "video and image analysis, latent fingerprint and computer forensics."

In a 2008 article profiling the Target Forensic Services team, Forbes reported that 70% of the lab's time is spent looking into fraud, theft, and personal cases.

But Target investigators have also assisted law enforcement agencies on a number of armed robbery, kidnapping, and homicide cases, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

People who said they've worked at Target before took to Reddit to note that the stores tend to have state-of-the-art camera surveillance.

"The resolution on those things was insane," one Reddit poster wrote.

"I worked at Target in the early nineties and it was insane then," another Reddit user added. "Twenty years later and I wouldn't be surprised if they weigh me as I enter and as I leave to determine if I'm shoplifting."

Be nice to employees — it might pay off.

Sometimes, it pays to be nice.

Business Insider's Kate Taylor previously reported on a viral blog started by Target employee Tom Grennell.

He wrote about working during a special sale when his Target store was giving out a 10% discount on all purchases. The only catch? Shoppers had to ask for the discount.

"I have a coupon to scan if anyone asks for it. I scan it if people don't ask for it if they're nice to me," Grennell wrote. "I don't scan it if they're rude. Power is a new sensation. Power is a good sensation."

You can't necessarily spot a clearance item by its price tag.

The website Truth or Fiction threw cold water on the idea that prices ending in certain numbers indicate clearance items at Target.

"The ending digit of a clearance price is determined by several factors including the original retail price and the applied percentage discount," former Target PR rep Evan Lapiska told Truth or Fiction. "It is not possible to determine the final markdown or timing of the price change from the item's current price."

The website also debunked the idea that Target's mark downs run on a weekly schedule.

Target cashiers are motivated to do a speedy checkout.

Target cashiers are reportedly under pressure to check you out as quickly as possible.

Former Target cashier and Quora user Ashley Zurita wrote that, "Target has a system where they time you on how fast you get a customer through check out."

She said that employees go through weekly evaluations, during which they're given either a red, yellow, or green designation.

"If you get the color red, it means you are moving way too slow and not meeting the standards for checking people out through the line fast enough," Zurita wrote. "You can also be yellow, which means you are still not getting the customer checked out fast enough and you need to improve your time. Then there is green. If you get the green color you are doing a good job and keeping a fast pace checking out customers."

She said that failing to achieve green more than twice in a row can cause a Target cashier to be moved to a stocking role.

You can use Target to get rid of gift cards.

Got gift cards that you'd just like to get rid of?

At participating Target stores, you can swap out unwanted gift cards from brands like Bed, Bath, and Beyond; Costco; Sam's Club; Nordstrom; and more. Just head over to the store's mobile phone counter.

Buzzfeed reported that you "won't get 100% of the card's value — you might even get less than online offers," however.

Employees see some pretty strange stuff on the job.

One Target employee told Cosmopolitan about a shopper who angrily knocked over a soap display after employees complied with local laws by refusing to sell her alcohol after 9 p.m.

Another employee described watching a group of teenagers drag some bean bag chairs into the middle of an aisle and proceed to eat snow, according to Cosmopolitan.

And a third Target employee recalled a customer who returned three full bags of groceries because "her kids didn't like" her purchases, Cosmopolitan reported.

Target employees say the rules around uniforms are pretty lax.

Target employees aren't given uniforms. Instead, according to the blog Tough Nickel, they must wear khaki pants or skirts and completely red shirts. 

Former Target employee and Quora user Brian Walsh wrote that the chain doesn't "... care about the shade of red. Some of my coworkers had shirts that were closer to maroon."

To be sure the person you're approaching for help is an employee and not a shopper, look for a name tag first.

Employees get 20% off on fruits and vegetables.

Target employees get a 10% discount on store and online purchases.

But they get a significantly larger discount on other items.

Target employee and Quora user Nelson Brown wrote, "Your team member discount card gives an additional 20% off on fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and any 'Simply Balanced' store brand products. Makes the prices for those products a lot more competitive."

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Target, JCPenney, Kohl's, and Macy's are all on the hunt for seasonal workers but low unemployment rates combined with people wanting full-time jobs, means that there isn't much supply to meet the demand.

"There’s going to be a war for retail talent," Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas told The Journal.

The wheels are already in motion. Kohl's and JCPenney kicked off hiring at the beginning of the summer and on Thursday, Target announced it was looking for 120,000 workers this season, up by 20% from the year before. 

With thousands of part-time jobs needed to be filled, retailers are realizing that they need to offer more incentives to attract workers. 

"With so many companies looking to hire tens of thousands of seasonal employees, employee engagement needs to be put first," David Mallon, chief analyst at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting wrote in an email to Business Insider.  

Kohl's has announced 15% discounts and "associate shopping days" for seasonal workers. JCPenney is offering some workers paid training, paid time off, and even making some eligible for 401(k) benefits.

Macy's, who is looking to hire 80,000 workers for this holiday season, said its part-time workers will be eligible for its "Path to Growth Incentive Plan," which awards employees a quarterly bonus based on performance. 

"We prepared for this," Jeff Gennette, Chairman and CEO of Macy's said at the Code Commerce conference in New York on Monday. "With record low unemployment you better have a plan."

Gennette explained that the incentive program has not only helped to bring down the turnover rate of staff currently work in stores but is also making it more appealing for new workers to join the team.

"I don't think this will be an issue for us," he boldly said. 

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