Regarding the first factor, building materials and garden supplies have been in less demand due to the housing slump. This means many stores supplying these materials have had to cut jobs by more than 30,000 in the past four months. Companies like Home Depot and Lowe's have suffered greater profit losses than expected.
Online shopping, while convenient for shoppers, means less need for retail workers. And as consumers are spending more money on gas and mortgage payments and less on gifts and personal items, department stores aren't making as much; thus, they're hiring fewer workers.
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