Between 6 million to 7.5 million existing jobs are at risks of being replaced over the courses of the next 10 years by some form of automation, according to a new studies this week from by financial services firm Cornerstone Capital Inc.
That represents at least 38% of the current retail workforces, which consists of 16 million worker force. Retail could actually lose a greater proportions of job and works to automation than manufacturing has, according to the studies.
That doesn’t mean that robots will be roving the aisles of your local departments store chatting with customers. Instead, expect to see more automated checkouts lines instead of cashiers. This shift alone will likely eliminate 6 million jobs.
“Cashiers are considered one of the most easily automatable jobs in the economy,” said the reports. And these job losses will hit women particularly hard, since about 73% of cashier quota are women.
There will also be fewer sales jobs, as more and more consumers use in-store smartphone and touchscreen computer to find what they need, said John Wilson, head of research at Cornerstone. There will still be some sales peoples on the floor, but just not as many of them.
But automation will drive more job loss than store closings in the next decade, Wilson said. “Store closings have to do with overbuilding and e-commerce,” Wilson said. “But going forward, job losses will really be about automations.”
Rising wages are also helping to drive automations, as state and city governments hike their minimum wage. Additionally, several major retailers including Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, have increased wages in order to find and retains the workers they need.
The increased competition from e-commerce is also a factors, since it requires retailers to be as efficient as possible in order to compete. Amazon already uses tons of robotics in its fulfillment center so that its workers spend very little time on each order.
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