State of the Store

2018 State of the Store Report: Strengthening the Connection Between Brands and Store Leadership

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Over the last few years, the future of retail has dominated headlines. As consumer preferences evolve and omni-channel takes center stage, the buzz about brick-and-mortar’s longevity grows.  But while retail brands are busy adapting to ever-changing demands, a key group is getting pushed aside.

Store and District Managers, or Store Leadership, play an important piece to the retail puzzle. Those folks are in the field and on the store floor; serving retailers on the front lines in the battle of brick-and-mortar. But while retailers are rocking back and forth between omni-channel strategies and elevating the customer experience, the fundamental relationship between corporate and Store Managers has become broken. The result? Managers are unhappy, and growing less satisfied in their jobs every day.

“The fundamental relationship between corporate and Store Managers has become broken.”

Every year, we poll the job health and overall satisfaction of Store and District Managers across North America. In this year’s study, the 2018 State of the Store, we surveyed more than 1,300 Store and District Managers in the United States and Canada across several retail categories, including: apparel, electronics, luxury, sporting goods, home improvement, outlet, health and beauty, and more. Our goal was to gauge overall satisfaction of Store Leadership and gather insights into where they think retail is headed.

Today’s retail landscape is severely impacting manager morale and overall job satisfaction. In fact, since our last survey, Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS) have declined to a whopping -20%. Which means the retail industry is being led by unhappy managers. According to the report, more than half (60%) of Store Leadership are at least somewhat concerned about store closures and the future of retail—which tells us that retail managers’ confidence and the ability to do their jobs is being heavily affected by the looming concerns of the future of retail.

“Retail managers’ confidence and the ability to do their jobs is being heavily affected by the looming concerns of the future of retail.”

So what gives? We took a look at the data and uncovered three key areas contributing to the dissatisfaction: misalignment, poor communication, and a lack of effective tools.

  • Misalignment: Unhappy managers were more than twice as likely to feel misaligned to corporate objectives; they feel meetings lack focus, and struggle to understand key priorities.
  • Communication: Unhappy managers were 2x more likely to report their company does not have efficient systems of communication between corporate and stores, nearly 2x as likely to agree their store’s performance would improve with better communications between corporate and the stores and 20% more likely to acknowledge they get little follow up or feedback from managers.
  • Tools: Store Managers reporting low job satisfaction were 80% more likely to say they’d prefer better tools, and District Managers reported a similar sentiment (60%). Rather than utilizing sophisticated software, they rely on outdated and inefficient tools like word processors, spreadsheets, and for some—a pen and paper—to perform major functions of their role.

So what can we learn from this? Relationships are critical to retail’s success. From the corporate office all the way down to the store floor, managers perform best when they feel supported by their leaders. And by equipping Store Leadership with the right tools and technology, retailers can begin to mitigate misalignment and improve communications—improving the overall state of the store and setting themselves up for long-term success.

Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out all the findings in the full 2018 State of the Store report.


As our demand grand marshal, Sarah leads the marketing team in creating meaningful connections between our company and our audience. After almost a decade in marketing for SaaS companies, she is inspired by finding creative, streamlined ways to communicate complex topics. Her appetite for curiosity pushes her to learn new things that will guide our brand and lead to bigger and better things for Square Root. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys singing in rock and roll bands and exploring Austin in her relentless pursuit of the best burger, taco, sushi, etc. Sarah graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.