Online Marketplace Shifts Retail Jobs To Warehouses

Nov 3, 2017

The Christmas Tree at the Jefferson Pointe shopping center.
Credit Mark Perry

You may not be hearing Christmas music when you shop right now, but make no mistake, the holiday shopping season began this week. Retail experts are forecasting online sales will outpace in-store shopping for the first time ever this holiday season. WBOI’s Mark Perry reports how the growing online marketplace is changing the retail workforce in Northeast Indiana.

The internet isn’t destroying retail jobs – it’s just shifting them. That’s according to George Andersen, Editor in Chief and Publisher of Retail Wire.

"You're seeing a lot more jobs shifting to warehouse jobs," Andersen says. 

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, retail employment has changed little in Ft. Wayne over the last 16 years.   

Jeff McDonald is the Vice President of Human Resources at Sweetwater. He says hiring has significantly increased in Sweetwater's distribution center.
Credit Mark Perry

Sweetwater Sound is one such Fort Wayne employer that is capitalizing on internet retail during the holiday season. Jeff McDonald, senior Vice President of Human Resources at Sweetwater, says the start of the holiday season came even earlier this season.

"We started hiring for the holidays in August," says McDonald. 

McDonald said he has doubled his hiring over last year’s holiday season, primarily in the distribution center. Sweetwater does have a brick and mortar store that has been significantly helped by their online business.

"We have people here from all over the place that literally, in some cases, we've heard them say plan a vacation around stopping in Fort Wayne so they can come to Sweetwater," McDonald says. 

The advantage of online retail, according to McDonald, goes to the customer, and in return, employees.

Full disclosure: Sweetwater is an underwriter of 89.1 WBOI.