Improving pay, progression and productivity in the retail sector

Kitty Ussher

How can low-paid retail workers earn more and progress in their jobs in a way that supports their business and the wider economy?

This report explores the debate around pay and productivity in retail, the largest low-pay sector in the UK. It brings together recent research on the structure of the workforce with data on the attitudes of the workers themselves, to make policy recommendations to both businesses and government.

The report:

  • shows there is underused human potential in the low-paid retail sector: 52% of retail workers feel they are overqualified for the work they do
  • identifies two distinct cohorts working in the retail sector: those who want to work more hours and gain promotion to increase their earnings, and those who value flexibility and convenience
  • finds that some retail workers think promotion isn’t worth it: 44% agreed that it was not worth working a lot harder for not much more pay
  • shows that perks are valued, but cash might be better for some.
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