The United States entered 2020 with a fair amount of labor market momentum.
Bloomberg says a new report from ADP shows a huge increase in payrolls at companies; some 202,000. In the previous month of November 124,000 payrolls were added. December’s gain far exceeds a Bloomberg estimate of 160,000.
The report was released ahead of another report due out on Friday. This one focuses specifically on private payrolls. The U.S. Labor Department has forecast private payrolls increased by 153,000 in December. Additionally, leaders there expect the unemployment rate to remain unchanged and to hold steady at 3.5 percent for the second month in a row.
Some Companies Closing Stores
Despite the job growth, not all companies are faring well in the New Year.
Macy’s said it will close 28 stores plus one Bloomingdales location. CNBC reports the decision was made following its annual review process. The company currently runs around 680 department stores and 190 specialty stores.
Macy’s isn’t the only store that’s struggling. Pier 1 says it will be closing stores as well; some 450. That news came earlier in the week.
CNBC reports both companies and others are trying to win back customers to its brick and mortar locations. This as more and more shoppers are ditching the mall in favor of online shopping.
Online Shopping Wars
One of those companies trying to take a sizeable chunk out of the online shopping market is Walmart. The company, which is one of the world’s largest, has unleashed a new weapon to fight Amazon. They’re calling it Alphabot. It’s a 20,000-square-foot automated warehouse that Walmart says will make its “grocery pickup service faster and more efficient”. Bloomberg says the warehouse is located in New Hampshire.
“Alphabot’s robotic carts quickly retrieve items and deliver them to employees at a picking station, who then pack and deliver the order to customers’ cars in the parking lot. Retailers call the process micro-fulfillment, and some analysts say it’s the most promising technology to hit food retail in years.”
Walmart expects to grow this process for other stores in the future. As a result, there is some concern this will have a negative impact of store associates and could lead to job cuts. Walmart is crushing that idea. In the company’s blog post, Walmart says Alphabot will help speed up and increase the efficiency of order picking. Right now, associates are traveling the store floor pulling items, packaging them and delivering them to customers. Associates will continue to pull produce and other fresh items for customers, but Alphabot will take over retrieving the other items.
“By assembling and delivering orders to associates, Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency,” Walmart senior manager of pickup automation and digital operations Brian Roth said. “Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of online grocery. And it will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks.”
Roth went on to say this technology will transform Walmart’s supply chain strategies in that it merges e-commerce with brick and mortar methods.
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