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Retail Employment Sees a Major Shift to Cyberspace

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Retail Employment Sees a Major Shift to Cyberspace
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Online retailers have seen a significant surge in employment over the years while department stores have actually lost workers, a federal report detailed Thursday.

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Online shopping has revolutionized how people buy goods and services. More people continue to rely on the internet instead of shopping in a more traditional way. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found the trend has also had a significant impact on employment.

“Employment in the electronic shopping and electronic auctions industry increased over 400 percent from October 1990 to October 2016, from 45,000 to 229,000,” the report detailed. “Over the same period, employment in department stores, except discount, decreased 36 percent.”

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Consumers have been turning to online shopping at an ever increasing rate with no signs of slowing down. The United Parcel Service found in its annual survey June 8 that for the first time shoppers made the majority of their purchases online–at 51 percent.

Amazon helped make online shopping what it is today when it launched in 1994. It wasn’t the first online store but it set a standard that helped it grow into one of the largest businesses in the world. Now, most major retail stores provide consumers the option to shop online.

The internet offers consumers several benefits over going to traditional stores. They can more easily compare prices and don’t have to travel to a physical location. The U.S. Census Bureau found in a report Nov. 17 that online shopping this past year accounted for roughly 7.5 percent of total retail sales.

The retail industry, in general, is massive and so online stores have a lot to gain. The National Retail Federation found in a 2014 study that the retail industry is the largest private employer in the country. The study stated the industry contributes $2.6 trillion annually to the national GDP.

Thursday’s BLS report also found that overall the retail trade industry has increased by 21 percent since 1990. The industry as a whole saw the biggest percentage increase by merchandise stores at 219 percent. It was followed by used car dealers, pet supplies stores, cosmetics, and warehouse clubs and supercenters.

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