What Is Retail Turnover?

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  • Written By: Geri Terzo
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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The trend in the retail industry for turnover is historically high in comparison to other sectors of the economy. Retail turnover represents the rate at which employees leave either to pursue other opportunities, for retirement, or in response to cutbacks or terminations at retail outlets. Much of the staff at retail stores are paid on an hourly basis, and overtime and medical and dental benefits may not be included. It is somewhat of a simple process, subsequently, for retail employees to step down for something more challenging or an opportunity that presents a greater chance for career growth. Retail industry trade organizations might provide some context on the state of turnover in the industry on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

If a regional economy is experiencing a slowdown, employers may recognize low retail turnover. This is simply a function of employees valuing job opportunities because the employment picture is otherwise bleak. Low turnover in the retail industry could also be a function of poor management, where individuals in authority do not recognize the need to replace underperforming individuals. If lackluster management is the cause for low retail turnover, there could be signs of this reflected in the revenues and customer service attained at an outlet location.


High turnover in the retail industry, on the other hand, could be reflective of a booming economy. In this environment, retailers may become more competitive and offer increasingly attractive compensation to employees. Individuals might change jobs more often in order to obtain new challenges, and subsequently retail turnover, whether in the discount or high-end arena, may rise. High retail turnover might also be reflective of poor management styles. If employees are not satisfied with a manager or other coworker and the work environment has become unpleasant, a strong economy will offer individuals more chances to change jobs.

An imbalance in retail turnover, whether on the high or low side, can be damaging to an employer. This is not only the case for sales employees. Buyers at a retail outlet are responsible for selecting, negotiating, and purchasing inventory for various store locations. Treating this segment of employees fairly and offering some type of reward program could result in a positive work environment that leads to employee retention instead of turnover. Given the pivotal and influential role that purchasing employees have in a retail business, unwanted turnover could have a damaging effect on a store's income.


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