Retail stores are shutting down at an alarming rate. Store closings have tripled in 2017 and experts predict that a quarter of malls in the United States may close in the next five years. Popular retail stores such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Sears have announced the closure of more than 400 stores. Furthermore, retail bankruptcies have increased dramatically, and this year, 345 retailers have filed for bankruptcy.
Consumers’ increasing enthusiasm to shop online has resulted in a wave of store closures. Brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to compete with online shopping giants such as Amazon and eBay and are closing hundreds of locations, amid declining sales. Many traditional stores have failed to change with the times and do not have a strong online presence.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 26,000 jobs lost at traditional retail stores in February 2017. Traditionally, American retailers have hired teenagers at high rates. However, this summer, firms that hire teen workers are scaling back. As the retail sales sector sheds jobs, youth workers are disproportionately affected.
With retail stores closing at dramatic rates, teenagers will be missing a historically significant source of employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that less than one-third of teenagers would have a job between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In 2016, the number of jobs secured by teenagers was only 156,000, a 14% decrease from last year. The Wall Street Journal reports: “The rate of teen participation in the labor force during the summer peaked in 1978 at 72%, falling to 43% last year.”
Even though bricks-and-mortar stores are dwindling, there are several youth-friendly alternatives. Teens will turn more to food services and hospitality and might also consider construction job opportunities. Furthermore, healthcare experienced a 54 percent increase in application from teenagers, who can fill jobs in senior care that do not require prior experience. Amazon is expanding its fulfillment and distribution centers, which may absorb traditional retail workers. In 2018, the e-commerce giant will add 30,000 customer service jobs nationally. However, on-demand platforms such as Uber and Lyft require drivers to be at least 21 years old. Instacart, an on-demand grocery delivery service, requires its employees to be at least 18 years old.
Research consensus indicates that summer jobs offer a set of skills to teenagers that help them throughout their careers. Hence, labor market observes, and economists believe that fewer job opportunities for teenagers would deprive them of valuable work experience.
The retail slowdown has undoubtedly made it difficult for teenagers to find jobs during summer. However, at the same time, more and more teenagers are not pursuing summer employment. Teenagers are likely to be involved in community service or enrolled in summer courses.