Yesterday it was announced in the media that the large United States retail operator Target would be closing its Canadian stores. This announcement throws 18,000 employees out of work and into the job-wanted lines. It also means that a discount retailer is gone from the marketplace. Surely there is nothing good in this story. I believe there is.
First and foremost whenever one business closes up shop, there is an inherent and very real void in the marketplace which means other retailers have an opportunity to grab a share of those customers and thereby solidify their own businesses and the jobs of those they already have on their payrolls. If for example I was employed at another United States based company in Canada – Wal-Mart, I’d be feeling a little bit better about my own job prospects. Some of Target’s customers are now going to shop there and so each employee might get more hours, seasonal lay-offs put on hold etc.
For Canadian shoppers, hopefully any new organization seeking to open up shop in Canada will take into consideration the habits and desires of the unique Canadian shopper and what we want as consumers. Instead of bringing in a tried and true American model of one-stop shopping, they might do their homework launch with more staying power and future jobs have more security.
One thing I was pleased to hear is that Target is providing all their employees with 16 weeks of severance pay. That gives each employee a small buffer of time to find new employment. This is going to perhaps help more in urban areas than rural areas, as jobs in rural areas for such a large number of people out of work will be hard to find. Here in my own town of Lindsay Ontario, I am doubtful that all those out of work will be employed after just four month’s time.
However, let’s keep brainstorming the positives and see what if anything we can find. Those who help people who are out of work such as Employment Counsellors, Social Services Workers and those who administer Employment Insurance Benefits will benefit. Oddly enough whenever people are out of work their own job security rises as they themselves become sought out and relied upon for help getting people back into the workforce and financially supported in the interim.
The other people who immediately come to my own mind are those who are going to be hired by the smaller players. Suppose someone was going to launch a small business but felt previously they just couldn’t compete in the market due to the big box stores. Well here’s a window of opportunity to open up a clothing store for example with decent prices, and that store is going to need 5 – 10 people maybe to run it. If you imagine four or five smaller stores filling the void and each hiring 5 – 10 employees, you could have 50 jobs perhaps coming soon in those communities where the retail giant closed up shop.
There is also a lesson (as there always is) here for any new entrepreneur; do your market research. Too many business owners be they big or small, have a model in their mind of how they want to operate, the merchandise they want to sell, the prices they want to provide and the experience they want the public to have. With such a vision, they fail to really determine what the marketplace wants, the prices they will bear, and they open to great fanfare and then implode on themselves. A huge corporation like Target failed miserably after only two years and lost a small fortune.
There will also be jobs for some in unexpected places. Perhaps architects, building inspectors, construction workers, designers, DZ and AZ truck drivers etc. will be brought in to change that huge single building into smaller retail shops. It could be too that other spin-off jobs will be created and while it may not be the same people laid off who were in sales doing the work, other fields like the trades in this case might benefit.
It is important however to not make light of the 18,000 out of work. For them, this is terrible news and is only bound to increase their stress levels. Some I imagine had trips planned and paid for, home renovations underway, maybe kids entering Universities soon they want to financially help etc. For these people losing employment is devastating. It will be a challenge for some to find work again.
This is a great example of why keeping your resume up-to-date when you are working is so critical and yet many don’t. If you add to it as you take jobs, win in-house awards, take some training etc., it is easier to apply for jobs quickly. You avoid having to sit down and remember dates of training, accomplishments etc. at a time when you are emotionally fragile and in somewhat of a shock due to news you’re losing your job.
So there are lessons here for future retailers, small business owners, those who currently have jobs, those about to be out of work, and yes for you and me too. Not all of us will be able to find positives in such a situation; some of us will benefit and some of us won’t. See what if anything you can learn from such news.