Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Health reform won’t lead to many retail layoffs, survey says


president-obama-and-doctorsSeventy-one percent of chief financial officers at major U.S. retailers do not think they will cut jobs as a reaction to healthcare reform, according to a new survey from BDO Seidman LLP.
But that still may not be all good news for employees at those chains.  Eighty percent of those executives who don’t plan to eliminate positions do plan to charge employees more if healthcare costs rise, the accounting and consulting firm found.
The remaining 20 percent said they do not expect their employees to face higher healthcare costs.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Olympia Snowe backed President Obama’s plan for healthcare reform on Tuesday.
“Managing healthcare costs is a significant challenge for any business and the retail industry, which is the second largest employer in the U.S., bears a large brunt of the burden,” said Catherine Fox-Simpson, a partner in BDO’s Retail and Consumer Products Practice. 
“At the end of the day retailers need employees to run operations and healthcare will be considered just another cost of doing business,” she added. 
BDO also said that shoppers shouldn’t expect many more layaway options.  Layaway programs at Kmart and Sears, which allow shoppers to pay in installments, have been met with applause from many consumers.  Still, 86 percent of retailers said they do not plan to offer layaway programs for the 2009 holiday season.
The survey also found that only half of the retailers who responded said that they sell green products.  Of those, 63 are seeing an uptick in demand for such goods.  Perhaps Wal-Mart’s sustainability efforts are driving some of that change.

The newest BDO Seidman Retail Compass Survey of CFOs took a look at answers collected from 100 CFOs at U.S. retailers in August and September.