Many of us have worked in retail at one point of another, some of us still do. But now, it seems the future is looming for those on the ground.
An in-depth study conducted in the US has found that nearly half of all retail jobs in the country are at risk of automation in the next 10 years.
Not-for-profit research organisation, IRRC Institue, commissioned the study with the aim to examine ‘potential automation initiatives’ across 30 retailers.
The companies were selected based on their market capitalisation, with the study looking at the characteristics of current retail staff to assess who may be at risk, should the industry continue to move toward automation.
It found that 47 per cent of Americans working in retail could be made redundant, thanks to the industry’s shift toward e-commerce and other technological innovations. Cashiers are most likely to lose their jobs, with sales people and freight handlers being at a lower risk.
It's a pretty worrying find. Especially when you consider that 36 per cent of the study's subjects are already receiving some form of public assistance.
“While the findings are important to investors, they should sound the alarm for economists and political leaders," says IRRCi executive director, Jon Lukomnik.
"The shrinking of retail jobs in many ways threatens to mirror the decline in manufacturing in the US. Moreover, in this case, workers at risk are already disproportionately working poor, so any disruption may cause strains in the social safety net and stresses on local tax revenues.”
While we couldn't find a similar study for the Australian retail industry, you can read the full US report here.