1. Analysis
July 5, 2022

Filings buzz in retail: 62% increase in the future of work mentions in Q1 of 2022

We've analysed companies' annual reports and other filings to see which key issues are receiving the most attention.

By Data Journalism Team

Mentions of the future of work within the filings of companies in the retail sector rose 62% between the final quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to the future of work between April 2021 and March 2022 was 767% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When retail companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. The future of work is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether the future of work is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of retail companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned the future of work at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 50% compared to 12% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to the future of work.

Of the 10 biggest employers in the retail sector, Ahold Delhaize was the company which referred to the future of work the most between April 2021 and March 2022. GlobalData identified 10 future of work-related sentences in the Netherlands-based company's filings - 0.13% of all sentences. Magnit mentioned the future of work the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.07% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high future of work mentions included Target, JD and TJX.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on the future of work and how important the issue is considered within the retail sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning the future of work more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into the future of work have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises the future of work mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the first quarter of 2022 was 'robotic process automation', which made up 63% of all future of work subtheme mentions by retail companies.

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