The Retailer Spring_09.05_FA



Dr. Liliana Danila Economist British Retail Consortium

As part of our Better Jobs Campaign which seeks to facilitate ~the journey to better and more productive jobs in retail, the BRC undertakes a yearly survey of low-paid retail employees. The goal of the survey is to measure employees’ engagement as well as to identify areas for development. It’s widely recognised that engaged employees have a significant impact on productivity and company performance leading to higher revenues, while, at the same time, reducing costs related to hiring and training new employees. The 2018/19 survey main findings are: 1. Employees’ engagement improved this year, though it is still below the level of 2016/17. 2. Jobs in retail are chosen primarily for flexibility and location, not for pay. 3. Three quarters of employees have ideas about how things could be done better. The survey covered 1,012 retail employees earning £9/ hour or less across the whole UK.1 There are approximately 3.1 million retail jobs in the UK, of which less than 60% are paid below £9/ hour. (Table 1) The sample consisted of 64% women employees, 91% white employees, 36% full-time, and 87% on permanent contracts.

The good piece of news this year is that overall engagement is up to 54%, compared to 51% last year and 56% two years ago. Our engagement metric is a weighted average of different indicators. This year, compared to a year ago, a higher proportion of employees thought that training has enabled them to earn more money, more employees thought shifts are well organised and planned, and a clear majority felt motivated to give their best at work. Shifts may be well planned, but 65% of respondents think that shifts are organised mainly around the employer’s needs, compared to only 42% thinking shifts are organised around their own needs. (Figure 1) Figure 1 – Shifts planning (% agreeing)

Table 1 - Pay distribution

2018/19 BRC Survey

For the third consecutive year, the survey showed that retail jobs are chosen primarily for flexibility and proximity to home, not for pay. With women accounting for 60% of the retail workforce (compared to 48% of the UK labour force), this is no surprise. Women are the primary care givers both for children and parents, so they need to be close to home and in need of flexible schedules. (Figure 2)


Under £7.38


£7.38 - £7.82


£7.83 - £9.00


UK retail



20th percentile






60th percentile



Note: Data for UK retail comes from ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

1 The survey was undertaken by Survation over November - December 2018. The sample was weighted to be representative of the industry as a whole in terms of age, gender, students and part-time status.

48 | spring 2019 | the retailer

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