Retail salaries and benefits: The realities of an industry of opportunity

Every year, NRF partners with Mercer to release the Retail Compensation and Benefits Survey. The data provides a broad and deep look at retail jobs and their compensation, benefits, policies and practices. Retailers use this data to evaluate their compensation, turnover, benefits, etc., relative to their peers, but we also see some trends when looking at the data across time. As presented at the NRF Foundation’s Retail Works Summit, here are key findings from new research looking at trends in retail compensation and benefits across several years.

Retail salary growth outpaced inflation and matched peers.

For entry-level retail careers, salary growth has outpaced inflation since 2011 and tracks closely to overall industry increases. This isn’t surprising when considering that retail is an industry that rewards those who commit to their roles and businesses. As with any industry, frequent “job hoppers” will likely see lower long-term wage growth because they’re missing opportunities for promotions and responsibility increases.



Retail jobs see wage growth even without promotions.

When looking at wages for the same job type and comparing individuals based on their tenure in that position, employees in store-level positions see wage gains even without promotions. For example, an employee who has been in their position for one year makes an average of $10.10/hour, while an individual in that same position who has been there four to five years makes $12.70/hour. This represents annual raises of over 6 percent. There has been significant upward pressure on wages over the last year and some retailers have responded by committing to boost wages to over $15/hour. These increases will have pay equity ripples up the career ladder, and the existing workforce that has demonstrated reliability and commitment to their roles will likely see proportional increases.



Retail jobs provide benefits for part-time employees.

It’s a common myth that starting in retail means a lack of benefits. However, data shows that entry-level part-time jobs in retail are more likely to provide core benefits (health, vision, dental and retirement) than other industry employers. As the table below shows, retail workers are significantly more likely to receive core benefits; an average of just 24 hours per week is needed to access these benefits. Beyond core benefits, retailers increasingly offer perks typically associated with tech or professional services positions such as relaxed dress codes, discounts on products and education or tuition assistance.



To learn more about the retail workforce, visit NRFs careers and leadership page.

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