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Korn Ferry survey reveals retailers’ rosy outlook for 2021

Retailers are optimistic that they will experience a better sales year in 2021.

That’s according to a Korn Ferry survey of more than 50 major U.S. retail companies in which 80% of retailers that sell essential goods such as groceries and hardware say they expect sales growth, with 20% saying they expect growth rates of 10% or more.

More than half (54%) of non-essential retailers, such as gift and specialty clothing stores, also expect to see an increase in sales.

“Big-box grocery and home improvement stores saw a temporary surge in sales at the beginning of the pandemic, and many finished the year with double-digit sales growth,” said Korn Ferry retail expert Craig Rowley. “This year retailers expect steady, ongoing increases as the vaccine becomes more readily available and more people return to their normal shopping habits.”
The survey by the global organizational consulting firm also shows that the way people shop may shift permanently. Nearly half (43%) of retailers predict that at least 20% of their sales will be from online shoppers. This is increasing the need for distribution center workers, and 68% of respondents say they are having a difficult time filling those positions. 
In terms of employee retention, more than three quarters (79%) of retailers say they are actually seeing a decrease in part-time store employee turnover. 
“As the pandemic started, many retailers saw a downturn in-store traffic as more customers changed to shopping online, and as a result, they reduced store staffing levels,” said Rowley. “Now, employees who kept their jobs are staying put.”

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