Longer Lines, Less Help on Black Friday? It Wasn’t Your Imagination, Finds UKG

UKG data shows total shifts worked by retail employees for Black Friday dropped 5% this year
November 29, 2022, LOWELL, Mass., and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:    An analysis of high-frequency shift work data from UKG shows the total number of shifts worked in the retail sector on Black Friday 2022 declined 5%, compared with 2021. The decline mirrors predictions leading up to the shopping holiday, which indicated that inflation, coupled with continued growth in online commerce, would prompt traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to temper staffing amid shoppers’ changing preferences.

For the entire month of November, however, the UKG Workforce Activity Report shows the retail sector (+1.9%) buoyed an increase in the total number of shifts worked1 by people at U.S. businesses for just the second time this year2. November shift volume increased 0.3% over October 2022. Although the monthly index dropped nearly a full point to 96.2, the data reveals no significant declines across other sectors, by region, or business size, indicating that the job market remains robust despite the ongoing labor shortage that makes hiring difficult.

Commentary:     Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG
“Although Black Friday retail foot traffic was up slightly this year, with consumers spending more overall, the growth in revenue was driven entirely by inflation. Employees actually worked 5% fewer shifts than last year. This reinforces the relatively smooth, though persistent, slight declines in workforce activity we have seen across industries throughout 2022. While the labor shortage is showing early signs of slight easing, a ‘soft landing’ for the labor market continues to be in play.”

Industry Analysis:    November shift gains in the retail, hospitality, and foodservice sectors are nearly on par with the 2.3% month-over-month increase recorded in November 2021:

  • Public Sector: 1.9%
  • Retail, hospitality, and foodservice: 1.9%
  • Healthcare: 0.5%
  • Services and distribution: 0.4%
  • Manufacturing: -0.7%

Region Snapshot:    The West is experiencing five consecutive months of negative growth, while the Midwest turned a corner, tracking its first positive growth since June 2022:

  • Southeast3: 1.8%
  • Midwest4: 0.6%
  • Northeast5: 0.4%
  • West6: -0.8%

Business Size:   It is the first month of shift growth since May 2022 for companies employing 1,001-2,500 people:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: -0.2%
  • 101-500: 0.2%
  • 501-1,000: 0.3%
  • 1,001-2,500: 0.8%
  • 2,501-5,000: -0.1%
  • More than 5,000: 3.8%

Timeliness:   The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index analyzing shift work trends for 4.2 million people at 35,000 U.S. businesses to understand job creation and economic momentum.

About UKG

At UKG, our purpose is people. As strong believers in the power of culture and belonging as the secret to success, we champion great workplaces and build lifelong partnerships with our customers to show what’s possible when businesses invest in their people. Born from a historic merger that created one of the world’s leading HCM cloud companies, our unique Life-work Technology approach to HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people helps more than 70,000 organizations around the globe across every industry anticipate and adapt to their employees’ needs beyond just work. To learn more, visit ukg.com.

Footnote 1: “Shifts worked” is a total derived from aggregated employee time and attendance data and reflects the number of times that employees, especially those who are paid hourly or must be physically present at a workplace to perform their jobs, “clock in” and “clock out” via a timeclock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

Footnote 2: Shift work also increased in February and June 2022. However, February’s growth can be directly attributed to a strong snapback to more normal activity levels following the steep declines experienced in January 2022 during the Omicron wave. UKG advises that this spike should be interpreted as a resumption of more normal activity levels and not growth.

Footnote 3: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 4: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Footnote 5: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 6: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

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