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You know what bugs me? Eliminating full time positions for part time positions in the retail sector.

Let me explain:When I shop I’ve been experimenting with this question,”are you full time or part time?”

Conclusion: PTmers are nice enough, but don’t know the answer or have the expertise, not for lack of desire, they simply are not at work long enough to learn. Recent experiences at REI, Best Buys, and Staples, the sales associate and I answered the question together, by looking it up on the computer or verifying the answer. How would they know working 12-16 hours a week? How would they know the breadth of the assortment of merchandise and the technical expertise? I bought shoes at a store in Colorado with CJ and the FT sales associate (mgr in training) knew every style, fabric, fit, construction and steered us in the right direction. We bought 2 pairs. A national gourmet shop sales associate (one of the mgrs) knew all her customers, asked how they liked what they bought the week prior, spoke of the nuances of every machine. PT sales associates that knew their stuff this holiday season whether it be a mens store or home furnishings had been there for over 10 years, and in the business for longer. Much time to perfect their knowledge and therefore outstanding.

So when retailers eliminate FT positions for PT to get their payroll model to look like it did previously 10 or even 5 years ago, I say start over!
Times They Are A-Changin…what are the risks:
1. Not enough FTmers to be mentors and teachers to PTmers. In urban stores (like Boston, NYC, Washington DC, San Francisco), where the part time staff is transient, more turnover exists, the need for a stronger foundation of more full timers is critical for stability and culture preservation.
2. Not enough open positions for our recent graduates from retailing and business schools to encourage career building and train the next line of merchants for the future.
3. More part timers erode the goal of competing for the culture of best service which ultimately effects sales, because they simply are not there long enough to learn
4. Under 29 hours/week=part time=no benefits. Good for the financial statement but bad for the employee. PT work cannot afford to pay health care costs much less pay the rent and support the economy.
5. Challenge the statement that PTmers are more flexible than FTmers. Full time commitments have to and want to be flexible. “You give me training, benefits, ability to advance and I’ll give you loyalty, commitment, dedication. Isn’t that the motto of the next generation?
6. And the HR departments say you cannot take work home and not get paid…ala the part timer who wants to study, wants to be there unpaid for face time and the answer is no…doesn’t that kill the work ethic that made us/me?
7. Shouldn’t a company be taking care of its people as a core value?

Eleven Companies offer Health Care Benefits to PT Workers: Whole Foods, Starbucks, Costco, UPS, Trader Joes, Home Depot, Lowes, Staples, REI, Lands End, UHaul.

Is Target the good guy or bad guy, 10% of its PT workers have health care and now will go to the ACA…Target will give them a $500 stipend.
Did the Affordable Care Act project all that would be happening? Too many questions to list here.
Companies under 50 employees had incentives to drop health benefits, shift from employer sponsored plan to ACA and therefore workers have to pay more than the did before. PTmers not signing up because they cannot afford it in the first place? Do the math! According to McKinsey & Co. only 11% purchased plans who were not insured.

I challenge the business models in retail that now one size fits all. There are small, med, and large sales volume stores. There are urban and suburban with different demographic mixes. There are N,S,E,W and Midwest where rates and living costs are different. Retailers have to adjust their business models and yes it is complicated but needs to be done. Yes there are expenses and resources that have to be supported but really…isn’t full time commitments to fabulous employees first and foremost after great merchandise? Doesn’t frivolous spending visible to employees erode the feeling of financially supporting the staff? Walmart cutting 2300 positions and changing structure of small volume stores is obvious. And then the work that is required in smaller stores with smaller staffs has to change and/or the small stores become the training stores as the model.

My conclusion: Full Timers have loyalty, committed to learn, are eager, proud, grateful, see promotions on the horizon and tapped before they are busy and bored…isn’t that what we want? Retail has historically been a lower paid profession, but with a part time model and only a select few full timers at the top, the future of brick and mortar is even more challenged. I say get the best and the brightest and give them the money to live and they will give their all-with gusto!

KORS Selma Bag

KORS Selma Bag

Coach announced their fourth quarter North American comp store sales down 13% and the market share lost to Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and Tory Burch. The big miss was their messenger bag was too expensive alongside MK Selma bag in the $200-350 range. Lots of U Tube testimonials on this bag. Let’s watch how Coach adjusts their price points and if they keep their full time talent? Will be interesting to see the pressure and reactions with publicly traded companies.

WOMEN IN THE NEWS: Obvious- Planet Hillary on the cover of the NYTimes Magazine bringing all her allies into her orbit. A good read. Truth be told, I was an early supporter of ‘Ready for Hillary’ and just opted out. Got sick of the constant e mails, asking for money, and now I am conflicted. Chelsea is the one I want to follow. She has taken over the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation and put her stamp on it with new decisions. She is the rock star!

And who rang the opening bell last Friday on the stock exchange? Sheila Lirio Marcelo CEO of Inc who raised $91 million in an initial public stock offering and closed up 43% by end of day. She was mentioned in my blog ‘Confidence, Courage, Character’ highlighting the leadership awards at the Girl Scout event.
Saw her ad on the food network Sunday to find babysitters and caregivers. Pretty impressive. I would like to meet her too…don’t you think some of us will either work for her or at some point use her service?