The store group is understood to have announced the decision to staff earlier this month and to have deferred a pay review until April.
Tough trading conditions across retail have prompted companies such as ScS, Comet and Homebase to cut jobs, while others have frozen pay – typically at head office rather than on the shopfloor.
Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman last month revealed he had agreed to forego a pay rise this year, along with about 1,000 head office staff and store managers, after a pay review was deferred until after Christmas.
Bhs owner Sir Philip Green, who also owns fashion group Arcadia, did not confirm the pay freeze, but told Retail Week: “There is hardly a company in the country that’s not got a pay freeze.”
Verdict lead retail analyst Maureen Hinton said it was likely that other retailers will follow suit, given rising costs across the board.
“All retailers are thinking about how they can cut costs because it is very difficult to pass them on to the consumer at the moment,” she said.
She added that it is “sensible” for retailers to cut staff costs – one of the biggest costs in retail – in tough times.
However, she warned that the impact on staff needs to be monitored. “Retailers need motivated staff in tough times because customers need TLC to encourage them to spend money,” she said.
She warned that pay freezes must be well presented to staff to avoid fuelling resentment. “If a pay review is deferred and there is some kind of benefit to staff in the future, it can be motivating for staff to be involved in supporting the business,” she said.
Green is expected to post results for Bhs and Arcadia over the next month. Bhs’s figures may be published as early as next week, industry observers believed.