General Retail Business Issues/Employee hours


Hi Jeff,

I have a question that I've pondered for many years, as I've known numerous people that work in the retail industry.

Basically, why do stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, give their employees (especially part-time) such varying hours.  I understand that business fluctuates with the seasons so the total number of hours might somewhat vary, but that's not what I mean.  

Let's take 2 consecutive weeks in the summer months and a typical employee named John.  John's work schedule for Week 1 might be:

Monday 8-2
Tuesday 8-12
Wednesday 8-12
Thursday 5-9
Friday off

and Week 2:

Monday off
Tuesday 4-9
Wednesday 12-6
Thursday 8-2
Friday 3-7

Now, what I mean is that this seems to be doubly stupid.  First off John can't have a life or a second job because his work hours and days off are constantly in flux.  Secondly, it seems like you're paying some tool (pardon the contempt) to just sit and make out random schedules every week.  

Wouldn't it be much simpler to just hire some employees who want to work mornings (every single day) and some employees who want to work evenings (every single day)?  The employees get what they want, the employer gets happier employees, and you don't have to pay the schedule person to sit and throw darts at the wall to make up random schedules for dozens (maybe hundreds) of employees every week.  

Thanks for the info, as this has been bugging me a long time.

Seems like it should be fairly simple doesn't it?

Problems enter quickly however. Students have varying schedules, people maybe willing to work one weekend day but not both, appointments, holidays and seniority the issues go on.

Working retail is challenging and so is the scheduling.

My answer doesn't help the situation but hopefully you can appreciate the challenges.


General Retail Business Issues

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Jeff Bender


If you have questions regarding the methods and metrics practiced by department stores and mass merchants when it comes to how they manage categories and product, I can help.


I have been a buyer for over 11 years, including within the Target corporation. My expereince has included all apsects of the profit and liability for my areas, analysis, planning, marketing, costing, markdowns, negotiations with vendors, and more.

BS, Unversity of Wisconsin, Madison

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