Consumer confidence in the retail industry is on the rise, increasing almost 20 percent since 2009, according to new research from Aon Risk Solutions.
Aon found that when retailers looked back on 2010, they cited their top five risks as:
supply system disruption,
liability risk and
major business interruption.
(Not surprising, considering the global recession, recalls and natural disasters that punctuated the rocky business landscape last year.)
When retailers look forward, they're anticipating growth. Aon's 2010 U.S. Retail Industry Report revealed that growth is retailers' number one priority, followed by the objectives to increase profitability, control costs, provide business continuity and stabilize operations. Risk managers are going to have to step up in order for organizations to realize these goals. Fortunately, the vast majority (80 percent) of retailers at Aon's Retail Symposium held last fall said that they expect the responsibility and accountability of the risk management function to grow in the coming year.
Of course, analysts are keeping a careful eye on employment figures, too. Total employment in the U.S. has fallen five percent since August 2007 and grown only 0.2 percent since August 2009. Retail was hit harder. Employment in the retail sector has fallen seven percent since August 2007 and 0.3 percent since August 2009. But, Aon's survey detected optimism for 2011.
"In 2011, nearly 60 percent of all retail HR departments are expecting the same or higher conversion rates of seasonal employees to full-time employees compared to 2010," said Patrick Tomlinson, senior vice president for Aon Hewitt. "This conversion rate is typically a good indicator of retailers' expectations for the new year."