Retail jobs are notorious for their wages, hours, and benefits packages — and not in a good way.
People who work in retail (and there are lots of them — it’s the single most common job in America) complain about earning minimum wage and how hard it is on their family.
Plus, retail work often demands brutally inconsistent hours, encompassing early mornings, late evenings, and most definitely holidays and weekends — even Thanksgiving Day in some cases.
And benefits? Pfffttt. The “benefits package” at many retail jobs includes an employee discount, and that’s about it.
These Retailers Offer Decent Pay and Real-Deal Benefits
Of course, not all retailers follow the status quo when it comes to pay and benefits. In fact, some employers in the retail industry offer a much better deal – and much higher wages – than the rest.
Whether it’s to increase employee retention, to boost morale and customer satisfaction, or to simply do the right thing, these retailers stand out from pack by offering their workers — even part-timers, in most cases — much more than minimum wage and actual benefits like healthcare and access to company-sponsored retirement plans.
Aldi, a discount grocery score, is famous for its low prices and quirky rules (using a cart requires a 25-cent deposit, for example), but few people know how well they pay their employees. According to a recent report from careers site Glassdoor.com, earnings for hourly workers, such as cashiers, start at around $12.02 per hour nationwide. A shift manager, on the other hand, can earn more than $15 per hour at the family grocery store chain.
Once you work your way up, earnings rise quite a bit. As Glassdoor notes, a management trainee earns average wages of $22.93 per hour, and ALDI’s website boasts a starting annual salary of $80,000 for district managers.
According to reviews from current and former employees, benefits packages at ALDI can also be rather lucrative for full-time employees. While each package depends on where you live and the type of healthcare available, benefits reportedly include full medical and dental insurance, plus a 401(k) retirement plan with an employer contribution.
Costco Wholesale is notorious for paying higher wages than they have to. According to Glassdoor estimates, front end assistants earn average hourly wages of $12.39 and cashiers earn $14.78 per hour. Using an average of 99 salaries across the country, Glassdoor shows that Costco’s front-end cashiers in particular earn slightly more at $15.71 per hour.
Supervisors and managers, on the other hand, see much higher salaries on average. For example, general supervisors earned $23.14 per hour at last count, and department managers earned average annual wages of $65,838.
When it comes to benefits, Costco steps up to the plate for its employees once again. In addition to a 401(k) with a company match, the warehouse store offers paid vacation time and holidays and one of the best health insurance packages in the retail industry.
Trendy clothes are made and sold cheap at this Swedish apparel retailer, a pioneer of “disposable fashion.” But that doesn’t mean they treat employees like garbage. Part-time and full-time sales associates report earning an average of $10.54 to $12.02 per hour, based on hundreds of salaries on Glassdoor, and department managers earn more than $21 an hour on average.
Full-time employees are eligible for a wide range of benefits, including health and dental insurance and paid parental leave, while part-time workers also get access to a 401(k) plan with company match, commuter benefits, paid time off, a 25% store discount — even pet insurance. And the company promotes from within: As of 2015, 35% of employees in the corporate office started out as store associates.
Another Swedish-owned retailer, home goods superstore IKEA ranks among Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” IKEA pegs its minimum wage to the local cost of living, and no location pays less than $10 an hour. Cashiers and sales associates have reported earning an average of about $10.50 to $11.30 an hour on Glassdoor, but IKEA says it has raised its average minimum wage to $11.87 an hour in 2016.
Employees who work 20 hours a week or more are eligible for fairly comprehensive health care coverage, and IKEA matches all 401(k) contributions up to 5% of an employee’s salary. Other notable benefits include five days of paid parental leave (maternity or paternity) and up to $2,500 in tuition reimbursement.
Rushing out to Lowe’s to pick up a garden hose, a new grill, or materials for a home improvement project is a regular occurrence for many American families. Fortunately, this company offers its employees a good deal more than minimum wage for their efforts.
Salaries and hourly wages vary across the country, but cashier’s wages appear to average out to around $11 an hour. Head cashiers made more like $13.16 an hour last year, and department managers earned average hourly wages of $17.74. Meanwhile, specialists in certain departments – like millwork, flooring, and installed sales – earned in the neighborhood of $15 to $16 an hour, on average, for their in-depth knowledge.
Lowe’s also offers a better benefits package than most retailers. Even part-time employees are eligible for a 401(k) match and a very basic health insurance plan, according to the Lowe’s employee benefits website. In a review on Glassdoor, one current employee says they offer “lots of vacation time, even for part-timers, 401(k) benefits, and discounted stock opportunities.”
Nordstrom is well-known for their stylish clothing options, trendy home goods, and legendary service. But, did you know they pay their workers fairly well, too?
Hourly wages for store associates start at $11.77 nationally, while department managers can make more than $43,000 per year. Based on 145 employee salaries, store cashiers earned a salary of around $32,796 last year, and commissioned sales associates earned an average salary of $29,134.
Nordstrom offers valuable benefits packages as well, although not all employees are eligible. “Great medical and dental,” writes one former employee who reviewed Nordstrom on Glassdoor, adding that they also offer a “great 401(k) and a career in retail that is unmatched in pay and benefits.”
Recreational Equipment, Inc. is not your average retail chain. While other stores were advertising “doorbuster” sales that started before the last piece of turkey was gobbled up on Thanksgiving Day, REI actually closed its doors on Black Friday and encouraged its employees and customers to get outside.
When they are working, REI sales associates report earning an average of around $11.40 an hour on Glassdoor. What’s more, the co-op, which is owned by its members and employees, offers generous benefits and a work environment that has helped it rank among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” 18 years in a row. “Employees who work at least 20 hours per week, regardless of part-time or full-time status, are eligible for comprehensive health coverage and life and disability insurance,” according to REI’s 2015 Stewardship Report. And in addition to personal and vacation days, the company also offers its workers two “Yay Days” per year — paid opportunities for employees to volunteer or explore the outdoors.
And get this: Eligible employees receive a company contribution to their retirement plan equivalent to 5% of their salary, whether or not they contribute anything themselves, plus up to 10% more in profit-sharing contributions based on the company’s annual sales performance. And all regular employees, regardless of tenure, are eligible for the company’s annual incentive plan, which paid out $44 million in bonuses in 2016 based on the previous year’s sales.
While this natural and organic grocer is sometimes nicknamed “whole paycheck” for its high prices, at least it’s sharing the love with its employees. Whole Foods cashiers report earning an average of $11.10 per hour on Glassdoor, while team leader pay averages close to $25 an hour or $68,400 for salaried, full-time employees.
Workers who put in at least 20 hours a week are eligible for health insurance coverage, according to Fortune, and other benefits include a 401(k), employee stock options, and a 20% store discount for all employees and their domestic partners.
The Bottom Line
Retail jobs are notoriously demanding, yet tend to offer lower wages and fewer benefits than other comparable jobs. Still, some employers in this industry offer a better deal for their workers than most. If you work in retail, it might be wise to start looking to move up the ranks – and into a company that will actually reward you for your hard work.
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Have you ever worked in retail before? How much money did you make? Would you add any retailers to this list?