As tech companies lay off tens of thousands of workers, major retail giants are scrambling to retain theirs. Despite having already raised wages throughout the pandemic, these retailers still anticipate further wage pressures. For example, Walmart recently announced a wage increase for its U.S. hourly workers, raising starting wages from $12 to $14 an hour, with average hourly wages now over $17.50. Similarly, Home Depot plans to spend $1 billion on hourly employee wage increases, while Dollar Tree has pledged to spend $430 million this fiscal year on improving wages and operations, citing a need to reduce theft at its stores.
The competition for retail workers is expected to remain high, with quit rates for retail jobs dropping only slightly since reaching an all-time high in December 2021 and rising steadily since July. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in the retail sector as of January stood 15% higher than pre-pandemic levels. The services sector, specifically leisure and hospitality, which pays even less than retail, saw 80% more job openings in January compared to pre-pandemic levels, further intensifying the competition for workers.