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  • Claire Kalikman



The pandemic has caused job losses across all industries and fashion has been particularly affected. This month was a tough one for retail. Among British brands, Marks & Spencer announced plans to cut 7,000 jobs over three months, drugstore Boots is letting 4,000 people go, the department store John Lewis will lose 1,300 people, and Selfridge’s will cut its staff by 400.

In the United States, Estee Lauder is laying off 2,000 people, Glossier laid off 300 employees, and Rent the Runway closed all five of its physical stores and has laid off or let go half of its staff. Back in May, CBS News reported that the retail job losses were the highest on record. That’s right: a full three months ago, was already the worst time on record for retail jobs. 

Australia has seen multiple fashion brands go into administration, including some of the biggest names in swimwear: Tigerlily, Jets and Seafolly. While some are being rescued, that’s no consolation to those who lost their jobs in the process. And the store closures keen coming - Mosaic, which owns Noni B, Rivers and Millers, is the latest - announcing 500 stores will go.

It’s an awfully tough time to be a retailer. In the US, some stores have been closed since March or are only allowed to offer curbside pickup. Even those that are open are seeing huge drops in customers. 

It’s an even tougher time to be a young woman. According to one report, in the US, women make up 49% of the retail industry's 16.6 million workers and 55% of its low-wage workers. Many of these are entry level jobs for students and young people. Even before the pandemic, women were being the most adversely affected by retail job losses. In the UK, the 108,000 retail jobs lost to automation and e-commerce, 70% were among female employees, a study from the Royal Society of the Arts found. 

So why the stronger focus on jobs and job losses in the coal and manufacturing industries? One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to bring back coal mining jobs. “We are back," Trump said at a rally in West Virginia. "The coal industry is back."

In Australia, the controversial construction of the Adani coal mine had politicians promising that it would create thousands of jobs, when it really would only create 100 (and cause horrific environmental effects while doing so). These countries seem to care more about middle-aged male employees working in outdated industries, than the millions of young women working in retail. By Claire Kalikman

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