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CITI Predict 4 In 5 Retail Jobs Globally Will “Vanish” After Automation

A new report from CITI Bank analysts and the University of Oxford academics has revealed four in five retail roles are under threat of “vanishing“, on the back of rising technology automation in the sector.

Research states only 20% of employees involved in the retail back-end, such as transport, warehousing, and logistics, are safe. In addition, two-thirds of sales roles are also at risk.

The statistics follow tech developments specifically in the areas of self-driving trucks and increased warehouse automation processes.

Cashier and sales based roles are at risk, referencing innovations as Amazon’s automated supermarket, which involves consumers scanning what they want using their smartphones. The rising presence of online shopping has also significantly reduced the need for a physical store presence.

Co-Director for the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, Carl Benedikt Frey, states:

“The rise of e-Commerce players like Amazon constitutes only the early beginnings of the displacement of traditional retail jobs in department stores and high street shops, allowing consumers to check out without encountering a single retail worker”.

Should the predictions of Citi Bank & Oxford University ring true, millions of jobs worldwide are set to disappear over the coming decades.

Some individuals have asserted that rising retail technical automation could lead to new jobs being created, however, Oxford & Citi believe the effect on retail will be similar to agriculture and manufacturing, wherein these jobs will simply disappear.

Mr Frey also remarks:

“Retail is one industry in which employment is likely to vanish. The lesson of the twentieth century has been that most jobs that become automatable eventually disappear. The demand for low-skilled workers performing routine tasks has experienced a secular decline”.

The academic has warned that unlike manufacturing – which involves highly concentrated clusters of jobs – “the downfall of retail will affect every city and region”.

Mr Frey also asserts the developments have proved former President Obama’s predictions accurate when stating, “The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas, it will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete”.

Thus far in 2017 alone, over 55,000 retail jobs have been terminated in the United States.

The World Economic Forum has predicted around 5 million jobs will be lost globally by 2020, following developments in AI, robotics, and automation.


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