Retail industry hurting, workers look elsewhere

Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 02, 2016
Sports Authority announced they are filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, joining the ranks of other struggling big name stores like Macy's, Walmart, Target and Gap by soon closing stores in the Tampa Bay Area.
With the industry looking at a decline in growth, many employees, especially young employees, say they are eager to jump ship.
"I love retail. I think it's great sometimes, but at the same time it's not a realistic career avenue for most people," says Taylor Collier, a University of South Florida student who works two jobs to get by, including one at a mall.
"It is definitely a place for young people," said Collier, referring to her job at a mall in Tampa. "Most of my coworkers are also in school right now."
The reason she and others say they don't see retail as a career is because, in part, it doesn't pay that well.
Entry-level retail jobs usually pay a little over $10 per hour, and about $22,000 per year, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Yeah you can get a raise, but is it really going to be enough to start a family or buy a home or get married?" Collier asks.
Still, that doesn't necessarily make the retail industry a bad place to start.
"I think retail sales is a great place for a young person to be because I think it builds skill that a lot of students don't even know their building," said Russ Coughenour, assistant vice president and director of the USF Career Services Office.
His department works, in part, to teach young workers to take the skills they've learned in entry-level jobs, like customer service skills, and transfer them into other fields.
One great place to take those skills, Coughenour said, is in marketing, which he said is a great industry to get into right now.
"We are always looking for talent in marketing especially if those students are willing to graduate with a marketing or communications degree," Coughenour said.
Speaking of a communications degree, Collier is about to graduate with one. She hopes it makes her transition from retail to something better paying a bit easier.
"There's so many opportunities in sales, too, so that's definitely a big thing," Collier said. "Retail, a lot of people do that now, but then do other types of sales later."
Collier is scheduled to complete two degrees at USF in May.