The impact of retail on a community’s employment

In our work with communities, one of the questions that often arises is, “How does retail impact the employment of our residents?” Following is an article from Shopping Centers Today that highlights the real power of a healthy retail environment and its effect on employment in the community.

Shopping centers remain vital job generators

The industry has suffered through much job-loss pain over the past few years. But shopping center jobs remain one of the U.S. economy’s most important drivers, constituting about 9.4 percent of the work force, according to ICSC.

“We’ve all heard that small businesses account for nearly half of the country’s private payroll, and a lot of those are small shops and restaurants,” said Ian Pierce, communications director of The Weitzman Group, a Dallas-based retail real estate brokerage. “Every new store and every new shopping center adds to the local work force, and inversely, each new vacancy in the market creates job losses.”

In 2008 alone, retailers shed in excess of 500,000 jobs, about 20 percent of the country’s 2.6 million layoffs that year. But the worst of the cutting seems to be over. A surprising surge in retail hiring for the 2009 Christmas season brought 52,000 temporary workers aboard in November, which helped brighten the dour picture of monthly job-loss reports and began generating confidence that a turnaround is finally in force. GameStop bolstered its work force by 46 percent for the holidays, adding some 15,000 people at its 4,300 stores.

Clearly, if the U.S. economy is to thrive, it needs a healthy shopping center industry. For every $1 million invested in a shopping center that has “full competition” — meaning it is up against already existing retail properties in the area — about 21 jobs are created, on average, according to Measuring U.S. Shopping Center Investment Benefits, a report by Regional Economic Models and ICSC Research. For every $1 million invested in the less-common “insulated” shopping center — one that faces no competition from another shopping center in its trade area — about 25 jobs are created.

Over a 25-year time span, a typical regional mall creates or drives 54,145 jobs, on average, or 2,166 jobs per year in full-competition areas, according to ICSC. The short-term job-creation impact over the mall’s first three years, including construction to completion and the first two years of operation, is 6,694 jobs.

Over a 25-year span, a lifestyle center in a full-competition area creates 23,966 jobs, according to Regional Economic Models and ICSC. And over that same span of time, a power center creates 7,359 jobs, or 294 per year in a full-competition area. The Weitzman Group estimates that a typical 200,000-square-foot community shopping center employs somewhere between 400 and 500 workers.

The largest retail employer in the world, Wal-Mart Stores, has about 1.4 million workers on its U.S. payroll and some 2 million worldwide.

A quick look at the employment numbers in Texas helps demonstrate the distribution of shopping-center-related jobs and their importance. The top three jobs in a state that employs nearly 12 million are all retail-center-intensive: retail salespersons (332,750), food-preparation/food-serving workers, including fast-food workers (270,530) and cashiers (256,650).

Journey Awareness Persona Economic Development/Elected Official City Government