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Opinion
Justin Fox

Retailers Discover That Labor Isn't Just a Cost

Treating workers better and giving them raises can pay off.
Rocket science retailing.

Rocket science retailing.

Photographer: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO JR/BLOOMBERG NEWS

For the past couple of decades, retailing in the U.S. has -- with some notable exceptions -- been a vast experiment in minimizing labor costs.

At the 2009 annual convention of the National Retail Federation, though, Charles DeWitt noticed the beginnings of a shift. "Retailers started coming up to me and saying, 'We can't get any more out of this cost stone,'" recounted DeWitt, vice president of business development at workforce-management-software maker Kronos.