Retail workers fulfill a critical role in the economy. They’re the folks that help you find and purchase goods in stores. They’re also the ones working in back offices or warehouses, ensuring the steady flow of merchandise in and out of retailers’ facilities.
Given that many consumer retailers keep their doors open most of the day – and some even 24 hours – many customer-facing retail workers work non-standard hours, including evenings, nights, and weekends. A fair portion of retail employees works part-time.
There are approximately 4 million people in the US working in retail, and the average hourly rate paid to these workers is $13.13 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail employees worked an average of 30.7 hours per week in September 2021.
In this article, we’ll explore more about the different types of working arrangements and working hours of typical retail employees as well as the benefits and drawbacks of employment in this sector.
As the term suggests, part-time workers work fewer hours than their full-time counterparts.
In 1940, Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to limit the workweek to 40 hours. Before long, this became the accepted standard for differentiating between full and part-time work.
However, the distinction between full-time and part-time employees isn’t all that clear:
Definitions (or lack thereof) aside, we can conclude that part-time workers usually work less than 35 hours per week. However, it’s important to note that certain part-time employees might work less than 10 hours per week. Others could work 15 hours one week and 25 the next, depending on the arrangement they have with their employer.
Additionally, people employed in full-time roles aren’t prohibited from working more than 40 hours per week, but they’re entitled to overtime pay if they do.
There are several compelling reasons why people are drawn to work in retail environments. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main attractions:
Anyone who works in a desk job will tell you that such roles can negatively impact their comfort and well-being unless they’re careful. People who sit for long hours are prone to eye fatigue, back and neck pain, and lower overall energy levels.
Retail employees, on the other hand, generally enjoy a greater level of physical movement. That’s because they’re usually moving around the store, walking, or reaching. This can contribute to better overall health.
Many retailers offer their employees staff discounts on goods and merchandise.
The nature and value of these discounts will vary among retailers, but the amount is typically 10–30% off the regular price.
It’s easy for desk-bound employees to start feeling a little isolated in their day-to-day roles (especially now that many are working at least partially remote.)
Retail work, in contrast, gives people the opportunity to interact with customers and colleagues face-to-face every day. Not only does this make the job more enjoyable, but it’s also an effective means to improve one’s interpersonal skills.
Anyone who thrives working in a retail environment can look forward to exciting growth and development opportunities.
For example, it’s not uncommon for a customer service representative to progress to the role of team leader and then to assistant store manager within a few years.
Many retail jobs – particularly those offered to people with little or no experience – don’t come with the highest wages; minimum wage offers aren’t uncommon.
That being said, those working in certain retail roles do have the opportunity to supplement their regular wages with tips from customers.
By their nature, retail outlets are generally busier over weekends and holidays, which means that most of their employees must work shifts on these days from time to time.
This can strain the employee’s relationship with their loved ones as their work schedule can infringe on their time together.
Like other service industries, the retail sector generally has a higher average employee turnover rate than other sectors.
In some cases, this can negatively impact the sense of teamwork and community in the workplace.
We all know the saying “the customer is always right.” Many people who work in the retail industry are in customer-facing roles and will inevitably encounter situations where they must deal with difficult customers.
Of course, we all have the odd bad day when it’s challenging to maintain a cheerful face and pleasant disposition.
In a labor market experiencing unprecedented skills shortages, many retail business owners are seeking ways to make their company a place where people want to work.
Offering payment flexibility is one approach that’s growing in popularity among employers and employees alike. Specifically, Earned Wage Access (EWA) services – such as that offered by Payactiv – are an increasingly common element of benefits packages. Essentially, EWA allows employees to access pay they’ve accrued but not yet received.
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