Tilly Describes Impact of COVID on Retail Sector

A new Retail Dive article highlights Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly’s research on the impacts of technology on retail in order to better understand pandemic job losses. Tilly and co-author Françoise Carré’s research paper “Change and Uncertainty, Not Apocalypse: Technological Change and Store-Based Retail” delves into the technological and structural shifts occurring within the retail sector. They found that e-commerce, decentralized checkout and other technologies could eliminate cashier jobs and even some management jobs. Tilly also noted the racial implications of such industry changes; job losses are prevalent in the general merchandise sector, which employs far higher percentages of women and people of color, while the growing e-commerce sector is considerably whiter and more male. COVID-19 has accelerated change within the retail sector as contactless checkout and curbside pickup options emerge and online sales skyrocket, heightening the uncertainties faced by retail workers.

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