Properly collecting and analyzing retail employment statistics is crucial for an accurate overview of the entire economy and employment state. The retail sector is the US’ largest employer: With 52 million jobs directly or indirectly dependent on it, even a minor change in this field can send shockwaves throughout the entire economy.
COVID-19 cut retail shopping to shreds in the spring of 2020, but it is well on its way to recovery. Still, the improvements aren’t evenly distributed, and while sub-sectors like eCommerce are experiencing immense growth, others are still struggling.
Employment structure is also undergoing some changes, and keeping an eye on them has become more important than ever.
Important Retail Sector Employment Statistics (Editor’s Picks)
- The retail sector provides more than one in four jobs nationwide.
- There were about 1.6 million more jobs in retail in May 2021 compared to May 2020.
- Cashiers earn $10.35 per hour on average; this is one of the worst-paid jobs in the retail sector.
- More than 50% of all retail workers are between 16 and 34 years old.
- The average retail store manager salary is $50,385 annually.
- The average turnover rate in retail is high - between 60% and 76%.
- The retail sector hires between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers during the holiday season to accommodate the increased number of shoppers.
- The gender salary gap in UK retail is 5.8%, significantly higher than the national average.
Basic Statistics About Retail Sector Employment
1. The average salary of a store manager is $50,385.
Officially, base retail manager salaries range from $33,000 to $76,000 annually, and they often don’t reflect the responsibility the job carries. Unfortunately, that’s the case with most jobs in retail; in fact, most store managers’ salaries are actually somewhere between $30,000 and $55,000. The increase in online trade might also affect the wages of those working in physical stores for the worse.
2. The average pay in retail merchandising in Alaska is about $4,000 higher than in Texas.
Retail merchandising salaries vary a lot, depending on the location and sector. So, in some Alaska areas, the average retail salary is $28,097 a year, while in Texas, the same position is paid $24,091. To put things in perspective, the average salary for these positions on a national level is $27,000. Among retail merchandisers, an average fashion merchandiser earns $46,084 per year. In other words, if you’re interested in retail but want a decent living, fashion retail is the place to be.
3. Around 20% of annual retail sales happen during the holidays.
(National Retail Federation)
The United States retail sales statistics show that November and December sales account for about a fifth of a retailer's annual sales, making the holiday season crucial. Moreover, 20% of those sales are done online. It's evident that a holiday season can make or break a business. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the sector scenery a lot, but the data for 2020 isn't conclusive yet.
4. The retail sector hires more than half of a million temporary workers during the holiday season.
(National Retail Federation)
Retail industry revenue usually sees a dramatic rise during the winter holiday season. Retailers hire more than half a million temporary workers in November and December each year to accommodate customer needs. Though it might seem that a store employee can never be found when you need one, especially during holiday shopping, these statistics show that not even that many temporary hires are enough to accommodate all the seasonal shoppers.
5. The retail sector employs four million people more than the official retail employment statistics suggest.
(National Retail Federation)
The National Retail Federation estimates that the Bureau of Labor Statistics excludes some four million retail jobs in its monthly data release. The Bureau’s methodology doesn’t count people who work for a retailer but don’t work in a building where retailing is the main activity as retail employees. The technological progress enabled many people to work remotely and opened many new job positions in retail, but they seem to stay under the BLS’s radar.
6. Lululemon is at the top of the list of best employers in retail, with an average score of 4.2 On Glassdoor.
According to Glassdoor, the top retail stores to work for are lululemon, Trader Joe’s, and H-E-B. What these employers have in common is that, besides adequate salaries, they offer many benefits, work on staff communication, and enable a good work-life balance. They are indeed a great example of how business should be conducted, as more than 85% of their employees would recommend them to a friend.
7. Cashiers are among the lowest-paid members of the retail workforce, as they average $10.35 per hour.
(Indeed, Payscale, Fortune)
The highest paying part-time retail jobs are those of a stocker ($12.03 per hour), retail merchandiser ($12.42), and beauty consultant ($13.07). Retail work rarely boasts high salaries, especially for entry-level and part-time positions. Being a part-time employee often bars you from ever ascending to a higher position, because most of them require a hands-on approach only a full-time employee can provide. The good news is that Costco raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, so hopefully, it will signal other employers in the sector to do so as well.
8. The United States retail industry supports more than one in four jobs nationwide.
(National Retail Federation)
If you don’t want to do the math - that’s 52 million working Americans. Retail has been one of the driving forces of US economic growth since the Great Recession. Furthermore, it has been the top contributor to the US economy’s job gains since 2010 and grew its share of overall employment from 23% to 26%.
Retail Employment Trends
The retail sector was undergoing some changes even before the COVID-19 pandemic - the global crisis just sped some things up. One of the trends that accelerated beyond all others was customers turning to online shopping. This sub-sector had always progressed steadily, but with the pandemic, the development of online shopping platforms skyrocketed. No one knows if things will go back to the way they were after the pandemic ends, so keeping track of the market trends is essential, particularly in the retail sector.
9. US retail sales statistics show a 15.8% increase in total sales since June 2020.
Although US retail sales saw a 1.1% month-over-month overall decrease in June 2021, the online shopping trend is still going strong. Online sales decreased from May to June, but they were up 5.9% YoY, growing ever further even after the general brick-and-mortar-store reopening. While in 2020, the sectors that experienced the biggest growth were healthcare, personal care, and building and garden supplies, clothing and accessories have taken back the lead, with a 43.4% YoY increase in sales.
10. Amazon is predicted to grow and take 50% of the eCommerce retail market by the end of 2021.
When it comes to its eCommerce retail market share, Amazon held 37% of the market in February, but this percentage is predicted to increase. If you consider that shopping is one of the most popular online activities, with eCommerce sales reaching $861.1 billion in 2020, you can get some notion of the money involved. Amazon is expected to end 2021 with somewhere between 41% and 50% of the total eCommerce market in its grasp.
11. There were roughly 1.6 million more jobs in retail in May 2021 compared to May 2020.
(US Bureau Of Labor Statistics)
Retail employment statistics for 2021 show an increase in employment, a definite sign of recovery from the pandemic’s initial effect. In raw numbers, there were 15.3 million people working in retail in May of this year, and only 13.6 million one year before that.
Retail sector employment was one of the biggest initial losers of the pandemic, but it seems to be on the road to recovery. However, physical stores require many more employees than online shops, so as eCommerce grows, the number of retail workers is likely to go down. The automatization process is shutting down jobs across all industries.
12. Over half of all retail workers are between 16 and 34 years old.
(US Census Bureau)
Retail employment statistics show that most of this sector’s employees are on the younger side, which doesn’t come as a surprise. The majority of retail positions are entry-level, and they usually serve as a starting point for young people just beginning their careers.
13. The turnover rate in retail is a whopping 60%.
(Undercover Recruiter, Korn Ferry)
And things are even worse than they sound: If you look only at the part-time employees, then the rate goes up to 76%. Retail turnover rates are among the highest due to the retail sector's seasonal nature, relatively low wages, and average employee age. Given all the factors mentioned here, it's not very likely that the industry will ever have low turnover rates, but they certainly can be improved.
14. The gender salary gap in retail for full-time employees is 5.8%.
(Office for National Statistics)
This might seem low, but when you consider that the national gender pay gap average for the UK for persons under 40 years old is close to zero, things don’t look as bright anymore. UK retail employment statistics actually tell us that this sector is actually doing worse than others, because it employs primarily people under 40, and yet has a noticeable pay gap. What’s more, the “confidential salary” policy leaves women in the unenviable position of either accepting their lower salary or being reprimanded for demanding to be paid equally to the amounts their male counterparts receive, since they’re not supposed to know how much they’re being discriminated against. This reduces job satisfaction and increases turnover rates across the industry.
15. The average retail store owner’s salary is $49,217, and 30% report taking no salary at all.
Owning a business is something that many people dream about, but the reality is pretty harsh. Most store owners report working on weekends and nights, 89% and 81% respectively, and about a fifth of them work over 60 hours a week. In fact, if you divide their earnings by the number of their working hours, it turns out that they are often paid less than the national average. Nonetheless, being your own boss isn’t just about money, so 92% of small-business owners don’t regret starting one, despite the overall retail management salary being so low.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic weakened the retail sector initially, it has since grown significantly. The million-dollar question is, how will the overall trend of automatization and move to online marketplaces affect its employees?