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Retail Sales of Independent Stores, By Population Groups and Kinds of Business.......... 16
1938 RETAIL SALES 12 PERCENT BELOW 1937
Total retail sales in 1938 amounted to $35,300,000,000, a decline of about 12 percent from the 1937 volume of $39,900,000,000 according to preliminary estimates of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce made public on January 9 by Harry L. Hopkins, Secretary of Commerce Final estimates will be issued as soon as year-end information is complete. *
The year 1938 was the first since 1933 during which the total dollar volume fell below the previous year's level. During the four preceding years there was a continuous expansion from the depression low of $25,000,000,000 recorded in 1933 to $39,900,000,000 in 1937 when sales were higher than at any time since 1930 and were within 18 percent of the 1929 total of $49,000,000,000.
The actual quantity of goods sold during 1938 more closely approximated the 1937 volume than did the dollar value, since the general retail price level for the year averaged below that of 1937.
Sales in 1938 were below the 1937 level for all major business groups. However, only two out of fifteen groups sustained losses greater than the average decline recorded for total trade. The automotive group, which accounted for about 11 percent of all sales made during the year, showed a 35 percent loss and furniture and household appliances 17 percent.
After one of the worst slumps in automobile history, in which new passenger car sales fell off almost 50 percent during the first nine months of 1938 from the comparable period of 1937, the demand for new cars during the last quarter advanced automobile sales decidedly for the final months of the year. The pronounced gain over the last quarter of 1937, however, was due in part to the downward plunge experienced in sales during the latter part of 1937 rather than entirely to the rise in 1938.
Lumber and building materials decreased about 11 percent during 1938, as did sales of jewelry stores and farmers supply and general stores; sales of department, dry goods and general merchandise stores averaged a decline of about 8 percent, with the relative decline being somewhat less for department stores alone; apparel shops were off 9 percent.
Food sales, which do not record wide fluctuations of change, decreased 5 percent in dollar value; however, the substantial reduction in food costs during 1938 indicates that the physical volume of food sold about equaled that of 1937. Drug stores, filling stations, variety, and beer and liquor stores all recorded declines of less than 5 percent.
Of each dollar spent in retail establishments in 1938 more than one-third went for food and beverages; about one-fourth for general merchandise and apparel; less than one-fifth for automobiles, auto accessories and gasoline; and the remainder for other goods sold.
See the table on the following page.
* Estimates of retail sales in 1938 will be published in DOMESTIC COMMERCE as soon as final data are available, These estimates are compiled annually by the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, and are presented in this preliminary form in order to furnish a figure for retail sales, for the entire country, and by kinds of business, as soon as possible after var close of the calendar year. The final estimates, while they will probably not differ very appreciably from those presented above, will have been subject to various checks and counterchecks made possible by reference to data which do not come to hand until after the final reports for retail sales are in for the month of December,
ESTIMATED RETAIL SALES, 1938
Note: All dollar figures for 1938 and computations made therefrom are preliminary estimates and subject to revision later this year.
1 Estimates for 1938 are preliminary, see headnote; 1937 estimates
PUBLIC RELATIONS COMMITTEE A NEW MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE
"A new management technique called the public relations committee system, is not only an effective method by which a business organization can improve public relations, but it is also a development in management engineering of fundamental and far-reaching significance...
"The public relations committee system is new. To the best of our knowledge, it is only about two years old. Its experience record is limited to a few companies...
"A one sentence definition of the public relations committee system would be the development, through new committee forms, of an internal mechanism for determining the public relations problems of a company, creating attitudes of mind favorable to their solution, arriving at sound methods for solving them, and activating the organization on a planned, developmental program for their solution.
"Why is the public relations committee system so significant from the standpoint of personnel relations and management? The answers are:
"1. It draws executive, lower supervisory and rank and file personnel into a unified relationship, on a round-table basis for the purpose of creating better public relations.
"2. It objectifies all problems by visualizing them in the light of the external influences of public and consumer opinion, rather than management wants and employe desires.
"3. It removes the concept of grievances from such personnel problems as are raised in committee and substitutes the concept of public desirability for one or another policy.
"4. It opens the door to every employe and executive in an organization for as full participation in company thinking as he is capable or desirous of.
15. It implies a total abandonment o: appeals to "loyalty'as substitutes for the better engineering of social adjustment of individuals striving to excel.
"6. It creates a natural and unobtrusive forum and opportunity for employe economic education in the problems of their company, Naturally, complete frankness in the handling of questions as to company income, expenditures and policy are essential as the basis of confidence, ..
"A few guides to the operation of public relations committees are as follows:
"1. Organize a committee to analyze and solve the public relations problems of the company in their department or area, rather than to carry out organized projects handed down from above.
"2. Develop the interrelated, dual concepts of 'To make the Company a better Company to work for' and 'To make the Company a better company to do business with' as the guiding purpose of the committees.
"3. Let higher executives or 'public relations' men who sit in with the committees stay in the background rather than dominate the meetings.
"4. Limit the size of any committee meeting to about eight for executives and higher supervisory personnel, twenty for lower supervisory and operating personnel.
"5. Limit the time to about two hours, once a month (once every three months for lower supervisory and operating personnel).
16. Limit paper work to a minimum. In addition to committee minutes, keep only one central record of specific recommendations, their status awaiting decision or in action, and their final disposition. 17. Educate the committee through its chairman to an orderly conduct of business: A. One or more known problems or topics for suggestion announced in advance.
Reading of minutes of previous meeting. Reports on disposition of each reccommendation. c. Report from each member on one accomplishment in improving public relations.
One suggestion from each member for future improvement of public relations.
Discussion of above and recommendations. (Editor's Note -- The above is an excerpt from the reprint of an article in the November 1938 issue of The Society for the Advancement of Management Journal. The complete reprint is available from the authors.)