Five Common Links Between Empty Store Fronts and High Turnover

For the past six months my local town has been facing many store closings.

Although we have always had a vibrant downtown area, retail establishments seem to be unable to keep their doors open lately. Week after week it seems that another store is closing and no new stores seem to be coming in. Similarly, in several organizations I have worked with in the past year seem to be experiencing a revolving door of employees. More employees seem to be exiting at a greater rate than new employees starting.

What is causing both phenomena to happen?

In a nutshell, both store renters and employees are facing an unsustainable environment. Although some of the factors may differ, there are overlapping feelings of resentment and anger that propel a store to close or an employee to leave.

Five reasons stores close or employees leave:


As in many communities, my town has an abundance of detailed codes and guidelines that retail establishments must follow. Signs must look a certain way and only specific colors may be used. There are designated parking spots and not many of them. In a similar way, the organizations I worked with that have been experiencing high turnover have many procedures that employees must follow. Often one rule may not fit everyone’s situation. Sometimes people need more time off or flexible work hours due to challenges in their personal lives. There may be a hierarchy of who people need to report to even though they may have a better relationship with another individual.


The shopkeepers constantly bemoan that the town officials are clueless and unwilling to make adjustments or be flexible. There is a feeling that every retail establishment has to be the same as every other. In some companies, there can be a disconnect between what senior leaders see as critical goals and what the individuals on each team can achieve. Employees aren’t asked for their input and suggestions.


Of course money plays a role in both stores and employees leaving. The rentals in our town are sky-high and many stores can’t keep up with the pace of increases. Although they have an uptick in traffic, they have a difficult time making ends meet. People in the organizations who decide to leave may feel they are not fairly compensated. Instead of meeting with the employee who is upset, there is a set policy for salary increase and that’s what stands.



Stores vacate and employees run for the hills when they are promised one thing and never see it happening. Credibility is destroyed when town officials say they will change parking rules but never do or companies say they will look into more flexible time adjustments, but refuse to even have a discussion about it.

  • We can’t get in the habit of saying we will make a change but never follow through. Do what you say you are going to do.
  • Listen to the concerns of others to build trust.
  • Maintain an open mind and heart to make the necessary changes to keep stores and people in our towns and organizations.

    Stores that leave need to keep their reputations in tact and cannot afford to bad-mouth a town. Employees who leave also must do so in a business-like way. In a recent fascinating Harvard Business Review article, there was a study done on the ways people quit their jobs. Although many employees followed standard notifications, there were some who burned their bridges. For many of us, we will often meet people again in our careers and that means we owe it to ourselves to be professional in our exits.