The Untold Story of Growing Retail Wages and Rewards

The evolving dynamics of talent, culture, demand, and skills has reinvigorated retailers’ reward and wage strategies. Today’s retail workforce is diverse, innovative, and skilled and retailers are compensating talent generously to deliver for their customers and communities, while investing in their people to develop the next generation of retail executives.

The retail industry is a leader in wage growth outpacing many other service industries. Nationwide we are seeing an increase in wages in response to record labor shortages. According to BLS data from May 2019 through May 2021, the average hourly wage for private sector workers increased 9.9% - that’s a significant jump, considering wage growth typically hoovers around 3% year-over-year.

Retail Wages are Growing

But retail wages are growing even faster. In fact, retail ranked #2 as the second highest sector with the biggest average hourly wage increase. In some segments of the retail workforce, the jump was more than double average private sector growth--workers in furniture stores experienced a 23.2% jump and building material and garden supply stores saw a 20% increase in wages.

In response to the pandemic and the dramatic increase in ecommerce activity, retail talent opportunities have now expanded into new territories and roles. Retail employers were once predominantly labeled as individuals who worked in stores. But today, leading retailers are investing heavily in recruiting and retaining workers throughout the retail supply chain. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in the summer of 2021 that wages at warehouses have increased nearly 14% from 2020.[1]

Wages have increased for entry level workers to above $15 per hour[2] while assembly line foreman increased to $35 per hour and managers making $47 per hour.[3]

Unfortunately, when BLS currently reports the average retail wage, it severely undercounts the total wage growth because it is not accounting for the expanding sector of retail warehouse and supply chain workers. We hope they include these roles into their statistics soon.

Beyond the Wage Increases 

Beyond wages, leading retailers have made investments that make their total value proposition better than other service industries. From tuition assistance, growing leave benefits and flexible schedules, major retailers are making strong offers to existing employees as well as to candidates. In addition, retailers have made tremendous investments to ensure a safe environment to operate during the pandemic, covering costs of PPE, COVID tests, and paid time off for vaccinations.

Retailers understand that retail workers, who show up day-in and day-out, to serve customers and their communities are the most import asset a company has. The opportunities available to retail workers today are limitless for those looking for a career in retail and flexible for those needing income to support their families during all stages of life.

Retailers strive for their people to feel appreciated, respected, and included in the success of the company. They achieve this by continually investing in their people and in their company culture. Count on this to continue as retailers serve customers, communities and most importantly their people.

For more information about how retailers are investing in their workforce and communities, please contact RILA Vice President, Workforce Evan Armstrong.
  • Workforce
  • Investing in People
  • Retail Works for All of Us
  • Retail

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