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On its front page, the Wall Street Journal (8/5, A1, Gryta, Subscription Publication) credited lower tax rates and a healthy economy for a surge in profits at the nation’s largest companies. According to Thomson Reuters, in the three month period ending in June, profits at S&P 500 companies increased an estimated 23.5%.
Axios (8/5, Atkinson) reported that while the nation is “in the midst of its longest-ever streak of job growth, some American industries are having problems finding workers to fill their openings.” While many of the industries in question “pay well and provide ample benefits,” they are “often physically demanding or mentally stressful — often a combination of both — leading many millennials, who are likely to be more educated than the generations before them, to seek employment in other sectors.”
Chain Store Age (8/2, Amato) reported that according to a study from Salsify, products with more robust content “not only outrank merchandise with less content a majority of the time,” but “they are also the most frequently purchased items.” The study found “products with significantly more reviews will convert at a higher rate and outrank its top competitor 58% of the time.” The same is true for listings “with images (53%), and those with bullets (51%).” In addition, “Product pages with top-tier Amazon sales ranks have 64% more images, on average.”
In a piece on how retailers’ increases in minimum wages and starting pay have not generally resulted in higher pay for experienced workers, the Washington Post (8/2, Bhattarai) said retailers “have made headlines for raising their minimum hourly wages in quick succession – CVS to $11, Costco to $13, Target to $15 by 2020.” But “the average hourly wage paid to retail workers dropped to $18.58 in June, from $18.65 a month earlier.” Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk said, “Managers are being squeezed out. ... Companies are taking what used to be high-skilled, high-paid jobs and turning them into lower-skilled, lower-paying jobs.” According to the Post, “That shift, she said, has been particularly pronounced in retail, where companies are making do with fewer workers to offset narrowing profit margins. The rise of sites like Amazon.com have meant traditional retailers have had to slash prices – and costs – to keep up.”