The US Retail Market: Change, Challenge and Talent Attraction

5 min

The global retail industry has experienced significant challenges and changes in recent years. With the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, changes in consumer behaviour and advancements in technology the retail sector has been re-shaped. Throughout this article, we will look into the US retail market as it stands, and how development and change will impact the market and talent throughout this year. 

It is expected that by 2024, the retail industry will have a turnover worth $30 trillion, with the US retail market size standing at $4.55 trillion at the end of 2021. In 2022, the retail trade sector employed approximately 15.4 million employees, contributing 6% to value added GDP. 

There’s no doubt the US retail market is continuing to grow, providing an important indicator for economic growth with consumer activity and spending driving the economy after what has been a turbulent time in recent years.  

The impact of the covid-19 pandemic and the recession 

Throughout the covid-19 pandemic, the US retail market was impacted by a shift in consumer behaviour, with consumers seeking to purchase products and services online. With this, businesses that didn’t already have an online presence were forced to review and adapt their business to allow for new, digital platforms and methods of obtaining sales. For those businesses unable to move online due to feasibility, limitations or lack of resource, they were forced to close, many of which did not bounce back post pandemic.  

In 2022, with the impact of the pandemic and looming recession still affecting the US retail market, retail sales dropped 20% from February to April, according to Deloitte. Employed consumers have reduced spending significantly over the last year. 

Changes in consumer behaviour  

Changes in consumer behaviour such as hybrid working, and consumer convenience has resulted in a shift in buying behaviour and preferences. Retailers have had to adapt their approach and offerings to ensure they can compete and achieve sales. There has been a distinct drop in store footfall with many customers reverting to online shopping. Alongside this, the impact of fast fashion and increased awareness of sustainable products and processes within retail has impacted both retailers, packaging companies and consumers.


New technology and digitalisation in retail 

New technology is constantly being developed across the retail industry, with omnichannel strategies, interactive retail experiences, self-serve commerce and automations. With this technological advancement, comes new consumer behaviours, and new roles within retail to manage all new technology and processes. As we move forward into 2023, we will continue to see more change and innovation across the retail industry. 

Talent shortages and retail jobs in demand 

There is an ongoing battle for talent across the globe with talent shortages impacting all industries, including the US retail market.  

There is demand for talent across all business functions within retail, however some of the more prominent areas we are seeing more demand from retail clients are within Digital, Analytical and Leadership roles. 

The consumer recruitment team at CSG Talent highlight the top retail jobs in demand in 2023: 

  • Ecommerce 
  • Director of Sales 
  • Director of Merchandising/Merchandising Director 
  • Product Managers 
  • General Managers 
  • Head of Design and New Product Development (NPD) 
  • Account Managers 
  • Buying/Category Management 

With these jobs in demand and a shortage of candidates available, organisations need to compete against others in the market by increasing their appeal to potential employees and ensure retention of existing employees. 

What do businesses need to do to attract talent in a competitive market? 

Organisations and retailers in the US need to spend time evaluating their current processes, culture, brand and employee experience in order to make positive changes to attract the right talent. Candidates are motivated by flexibility in roles, career progression and personal development opportunities, as well as competitive salaries. Our consumer recruitment team at CSG Talent highlight the key areas of focus to ensure businesses attract and retain top talent. 

Offer competitive benefits and salaries to your employees 

We still find ourselves in a candidate driven market where counteroffers are still prominent and high salary negotiations are playing a big part in a surge in salaries across the retail market.  Salaries, as ever are an important consideration for potential employees when it comes to selecting a new role and a new business join, especially with the fierce competition on the market. Conducting salary reviews and benchmarking exercises on an annual basis can help businesses remain competitive.  

Leon Ford, Global Head of Consumer Recruitment at CSG Talent highlighted“We have conducted competitor profiling that led to one client discovering they were offering $120,000 less than another employer for a senior role. This insight proves valuable in being aware of market competition and being able to attract high calibre talent with a competitive salary range. 

Consider the benefits you currently offer employees; do they add value? Conduct research, internal surveys or focus groups to help understand what really matters to your current teams and employees in general. Having this insight will help you to establish the most sought-after benefits that will appeal to both new and existing employees.  

Evaluate your workplace culture and environment 

To appeal to potential retail professionals and experienced leaders, it’s important to know your culture and work environment, does this align to your values and is it employee centric? 

Hybrid and remote working practices were in place pre-pandemic for some businesses, however this style of working accelerated during the pandemic with many businesses across the globe facilitating a hybrid workplace, allowing employees to work from home on a much bigger scale. Businesses saw increased engagement, employee morale and business activity as a result, proving the hybrid model to be a success. Flexible and remote working is of huge importance to candidates seeking new roles, it creates a healthy balance between work and life and has largely become a priority to many when considering a new role. 

Recently, we have seen two huge organisations issue statements on ‘the return to the office’ with Twitter and Disney requesting employees now return to the office over the hybrid model. Disney called for employees to return to the office from Monday to Thursday to help support business culture and activity. While there is no doubt, physical interaction amongst teams can be hugely beneficial for team spirit and culture, this demand from businesses will no doubt have negative reception from some employees.  

Businesses need to be able to offer total flexibility to employees in order to get the best out of them. Will demanding your employees to return to the office after having so much flexibility support employee engagement, business activity and retention? The answer is likely to be no. 

Streamline your recruitment process 

Having a streamlined and well-structured recruitment process can help you achieve results and attract the talent you need to drive your business forward. Some of theareas of focus should be: 

  • What are your growth plans and what business functions and roles will you need to recruit? 
  • Who is involved and responsible for the hiring process and at which stage? 
  • What will the recruitment process involve and what will be the duration/format? 
  • How will you measure candidate suitability throughout the hiring process? 

In a candidate driven market, streamlining, and making your recruitment process more effective is crucial to ensure you don’t lose top talent to other retailers. Create a hiring process that is seamless and reduces your overall time to hire without compromising on the quality and effectiveness of your recruitment. 

Ensure you have a diverse and inclusive hiring process 

Having diverse teams and diverse leadership teams is hugely important for both business success and attracting new talent. Diverse teams offer a diverse range of ideas and approaches which has a positive impact on the wider businessAccording to McKinsey, profits and share performance can be close to 50% higher when there is a greater representation of females in leadership roles.  

There is a distinct lack of women at a senior and executive level across all industries and this is no different in retail. According to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, women hold 29% of executive and senior level positions within retail, as opposed to the average of 31% amongst all other industries combined. 

Consider your internal stance of D & I and how this is communicated both internally and externally. Do you have a diverse leadership team? Is your recruitment representative of diversity in your organisation? Do you demonstrate an inclusive culture and would your employees agree?  

Partner with an industry recruitment specialist 

To give you the best chance of achieving a successful hiring strategy and attracting top talent, it is beneficial to engage with a retail recruitment specialist. A recruitment expert with vast experience in the retail industry who fully understands the retail and consumer market can provide insights across the market from both candidates and other retailers. With such a vast network of retail professionals, retail recruitment experts have in-depth knowledge of candidate motivations, market movements and competitive salaries, and benefits needed to attract high-calibre talent. A recruiter can effectively work as an extension to your business and can offer tailored recruitment solutions to overcome current challenges businesses are facing when recruiting. 

At CSG Talent, our expert retail and consumer recruitment team deliver world-class talent acquisition services, they have in-depth knowledge of the market, candidate motivations and work in partnership with well-known and highly successful retailers across the US. Explore our latest vacancies within retail to view the areas in which we predominantly support our clients, or alternatively, meet the consumer team to find out the areas they specialise in within consumer recruitment and retail jobs here.