As most retailers gear up for the busy holiday season, stores like Toys “R” Us are waving a white flag of defeat — filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closing stores by the hundreds.
Dozens of retailers have filed for bankruptcy this year, eliminating at least 1,000 traditional retail jobs in Ohio. The effects has impacted Ohio shopping centers and malls, leaving some retail space vacant after closures — forcing local centers like the Dayton Mall, Mall at Fairfield Commons and The Greene Town Center to innovate in new ways.
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Companies like The Limited and Gander Mountain announced this year that they would file bankruptcy — shuttering stores and laying off thousands of workers. Retailers that have filed for bankruptcy this year alone include: Toys “R” Us, The Limited, Gymboree, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Wet Seal, RadioShack, hhgregg, Gander Mountain, MC Sports, Aerosoles, Payless ShoeSource, Alfred Angelo, Rue21 and Vitamin World.
Retail changes impact Ohio malls
In Southwest Ohio, retailers like The Limited, Family Christian, Gander Mountain, MC Sports, Alfred Angelo have all closed storefronts locally. Retailers eliminated positions this year in Ohio when they closed stores across the state, according to a data gathered from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.
At least 788 jobs were eliminated by retailers in Ohio so far this year, according to WARN notices sent to the state — and that number is likely much higher. Employers are covered by Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week.
Employees entitled to notice under WARN include hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees, according to the department. That means some other stores, like MC Sports and The Limited, did not have to send a WARN notice but still laid off dozens of workers in stores.
As retailers shed unprofitable stores, local malls are getting creative to fill space. The Greene in Beavercreek has started a new pop-up shop program, which allows local small businesses to sell their goods for a temporary period of time in a space across from Seophora.
“The gist of the program is that someone will be able to utilize a finished out space that is already fully fixtured for a week at a time. This has been very appealing so far,” general manager Steve Willshaw told this news organization in an email.
Job opportunities shift to distribution
Jobs in retail are shifting from brick-and-mortar locations to cater to increased online sales. Retailers like Target are hiring thousands for distribution center jobs for the holiday season. And, online giant Amazon is creating thousands of permanent jobs in Ohio through its fulfillment centers across the state.
Amazon also confirmed Monday its plans to open a fourth Ohio fulfillment center that will create more than 1,000 full-time jobs in Monroe. The one-million-square foot facility near Interstate 75 will house employees who will pick, pack and ship larger customer orders. A specific location for the facility has not been officially announced. Amazon currently operates fulfillment centers in Etna and Obetz, and recently announced plans to build another center in North Randall.
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“We are excited to continue growing in Ohio, adding 1,000 new jobs to the more than 6,000 Amazonians already working in the state,” said Sanjay Shah, Amazon’s vice president of North America Customer Fulfillment.
Retailers hope to finish the year strong with a growth in holiday sales. Retail sales are expected to rise more than 4 percent compared to last shopping season, according to Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast.
"The projected uptick in holiday sales ties to four primary factors affecting consumer spending, starting with anticipated strong personal income growth," said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte's senior U.S. economist. "Last year, disposable personal income grew 2 percent over the year to the holiday period, and we may see that rise to a range of 3.8 to 4.2 percent this season."
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