Retail staff set for 2.8% wage increase next year

Retail staff are in line for an average pay rise of 2.8 per cent next year, according to a study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

The increase is similar to this year's uplift, but less than the 3.1 per cent climb in 2002.

Mercer surveyed 7,000 employees from 18 big retailers, including food, furniture and fashion chains.

Mercer European principal David Wreford said salaries would rise at a broadly consistent rate over the next couple of years, but might be pushed up along with interest rates.

He said: 'If interest rates rise, there could be more pressure to offer larger salary increases. It's important for retailers to ensure that their pay structures are regionally competitive, because they risk losing staff to local retailers.'

Wreford said the 2.8 per cent rise compared well with other sectors, including IT. He added: 'Retail has never had the turbulence that other sectors have experienced, and it has greater salary consistency. It can be a predictable sector to plan in terms of pay.'

The study also revealed that turnover of sales assistants has fallen to 32 per cent, compared with 55 per cent in 2002. However, Wreford believes higher wages were not necessarily the main cause of the change, and said companies are now more aware of staff needs.

He said: 'The retail job market is highly transient because skills are easily transferred across organisations. More companies realise that, to differentiate themselves from the competition, they have to offer flexible working arrangements to appeal to a wider range of recruits.'