It took a pandemic to remind the world how essential retail workers are. To state the obvious, stores don’t open without the workers there to operate them. Navigating customer needs and store operations can be difficult work in normal times, and this year has been everything but normal. Workers at open stores amid the pandemic were given the title of “heroes,” while others faced furloughs amid mass closures among nonessential stores. The retail trade lost 2.1 million jobs in April, according to a recent U.S. Census report. “Retail workers have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic for many reasons including stay-at-home orders that threaten their earnings,” D. Augustus Anderson and Lynda Laughlin, authors of the Census report, wrote. “For those that continued to work, many were in work environments that put them in direct contact with others, increasing their likelihood of infection.” Their jobs were difficult and their lives were in flux long before COVID-19 reached the U.S., as technological and structural shifts disrupted the industry and wreaked havoc on key sectors. Read more at Retail Dive.