Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola:
When the dead season of summer arrived, a wave of panic swept through Au Bonheur des Dames. It was the fear of dismissals, of the mass sackings that the management used to clear out the store when it was empty of customers in the hot days of July and August.
Every morning, when Mouret was doing his rounds with Bourdoncle, he would take the heads of department aside – the same whom he had been urging the previous winter to take on more staff than they needed, for fear that otherwise sales might suffer, at the risk of having to thin them out later on. Now it was a matter of reducing costs, putting a good one-third of the assistants on the street, the weaker being devoured by the stronger.