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Retail employment levels continue to make higher highs and higher lows as the CPI for apparel continues to grind higher. This is both on a stand-alone basis, and relative to the rest of the US employment picture. It's as if the industry is starting to believe it can grow again.

We'll be careful not to compare apples and oranges, as the Monster employment index also includes Auto, Food and Hardlines retail. But retail wages don't change a whole heck of a lot whether an employee is selling socks, X-Boxes, or windshield wiper blades. But with employment higher in conjunction with consumer prices, it suggests that retailers are getting more bold (or less cautious) with hiring activity. 

The March numbers were the easiest employment compares of the year, and the become precipitously more difficult starting in April.

This will be an increasingly important trend for us to watch effective immediately, especially given the Gross Margin pressure that we think will come in 2H due to changes in the competitive landscape.

Retail employment is making higher highs and higher lows

Retail Thinking It Can Grow Again? - 2

...even relative to the rest of retail.

Retail Thinking It Can Grow Again? - 4 13 2012 2 40 17 PM

...while consumer prices grind higher.

Retail Thinking It Can Grow Again? - 3