Weathering the Economic Storm

C-store retailers express optimism as financial conditions continue to slowly improve.

by Mel Kleiman, Contributing Editor.

While we were able to summarize the major findings of the 2012 CSD/Humetrics Human Resources Benchmarking Survey earlier this year, there are a few more interesting facts to share concerning the responses to our first question: “How was the business climate in 2011 and how do you think 2012 will compare for your company, the c-store industry and the U.S. economy overall?”

Back when we conducted the previous year’s survey in February 2011, the economy had been struggling, but the majority of respondents predicted no major changes in staffing levels, training budgets, wages or benefits for the remainder of the year. Those who thought things would get worse or much worse for their employer comprised 14.3%, while 16.9% thought the industry would suffer, and 41.6% expected the U.S. economy to fare worse or much worse.

This year, when asked how 2011 actually turned out, 46.8% respondents replied that things, in fact, did stay about the same for their individual employers, and 51.9% said the same for the industry as a whole, as well as 46.8% for the U.S. economy.

When predicting 2012 results, an interesting difference occurred. The majority of respondents (61.9%) believe their own organization will do better or much better this year than last. Some 43.4% said that the industry will do better or much better and 31.6% expected the U.S. economy would improve.

So, there is more optimism for the future of individual operators than for either the overall industry or the economy. This is probably due to respondents having more information, as well as the ability to control and respond at the organizational level. Still, the overwhelming majority think the business climate will be at least the same, better or much better at all three levels.

Perhaps the feared fallout from the global financial crisis was unwarranted or exaggerated, but it is just as likely the industry proved its ability to respond effectively to changes in the economy and drive efficiencies through the management of operations, labor hours, etc.

Staffing Stable
Now that job security is of prime importance to job seekers nationwide, the industry’s ability to weather this latest storm would be an effective recruiting message to attract top talent at all levels.

According to our results, employee turnover is apparently at historically low levels for the industry. No matter the job title, most respondents said turnover has dropped considerably, most likely due to a weak job market. When it came to full-time employees, only 13.7% reported turnover at what used to be typical rates of between 75–150%, and only slightly more (14%) experienced part-time turnover rates above 75%  as well.

Survey respondents indicated that even though the economy remains weak, salaries and operating costs continue to escalate.

Managers’ salaries ranged from $17,800 to $68,000 per year with an average of $38,711, which is only slightly higher than last year’s $38,256. Assistant managers’ ranged from $12,000 to $42,000 per year with an average of $24,000. The hourly rate for a full-time employee ranged from $8 to $14.50 per hour, up moderately from $7.50 to $13 in 2011, with an average of $9.26. Part-time hourly wages ranged from $7.50—$13.25 with an average of $8.57.

See the April 2012 issue of Convenience Store Decisions to view the 2012 Human Resources Survey in its entirety. 

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