What Retail Workers Want: Be Nice, Pay Well, Staff Up

Jobcase, a social platform dedicated to empowering and advocating for workers, released results from its Retail Worker Appreciation study revealing retail worker sentiment and consumer plans during the holiday shopping season.

The findings show that 59% of retail staff reported they are treated worse by customers this time of year. Making matters more concerning is that 40% are afraid their employer will not have enough employees for proper staffing levels during the holiday season. Meanwhile, consumers reveal contradictory shopping preferences and behaviors: while they cite they are more likely to shop with a company that treats its employees well (61%), at the end of the day price is the ultimate priority. 

“Isn’t it wonderful that once a year we all pause to celebrate peace and love during the holidays,” said Fred Goff, co-founder and CEO of Jobcase. “Let’s please commit to one another to spread the spirit of this season beyond our family and friends and include bringing some joy to the wonderful workers who stand ready to serve us. This year they are understaffed, overworked, and underpaid. Please be patient, tip, support, and bolster up the people who roll up their sleeves come rain or shine to keep our economy moving!” 

Fred Goff

Jobcase’s research highlights the sentiment of retail workers and consumers during the holiday shopping season. Key findings include:

Holiday (un)cheer: Retail staff report being treated worse by customers during the holidays and employers aren’t staffed properly for the rush

  • 58% of retail workers are required to work on holidays, including: 
    • Thanksgiving – 59% 
    • Black Friday – 84% 
    • Christmas Eve – 81% 
    • Christmas Day – 30% 
    • New Year’s Eve – 79% 
    • New Year’s Day – 62%
  • Nearly 6 in 10 of retail staff respondents report being treated worse than normal by customers during the holiday season 
  • 40% of retail workers are afraid their employer will not have enough employees to make up for the extra work during the holiday season 
  • 43% said their employer hasn’t done anything to prepare for the increased work volume 

What retail workers really want: more bonuses and flexibility 

  • Almost half (42%) of retail workers said they’d want their employer to offer regular bonuses as a new benefit over company paid healthcare (14%) or childcare support (4%) 
  • Flexible scheduling was ranked as the #2 most important benefit to retail workers, just after wage increases

The season of giving

  • 6 out of 10 consumers said they are more likely to shop with a company that treats its employees well 
  • Of the 42% who plan to be more generous this year, tipping big is how they plan to do it (58%), followed by giving more gifts to people like teachers, caregivers, etc. (46%) 
  • Gen Z prioritizes employees being treated well when holiday shopping more than any other generation, ranking it three out of seven 
  • 62% of consumers said they’re more generous during the holiday season 
  • Millennials will be the most generous, with 73% saying they plan to give back this holiday season

What supply chain issues?

  • 59% of consumers said the pandemic has impacted how they will holiday shop this year, including a push to online and shopping earlier 
  • 29% of consumers plan to start holiday shopping earlier than they did last year 
  • Despite a focus on giving and prioritizing businesses that treat employees well, price is still the #1 most important thing when it comes to holiday shopping, followed by product availability 
  • For those who started holiday shopping earlier than usual this year, they’re more concerned about getting it out of the way (49%) than the expected supply chain issues (42%)

For those who are looking to make a difference for retail workers this holiday season, consider the following:

  • Tip helpful retail staff 
  • Provide gifts to retail workers at your favorite stores 
  • Let store management know about great customer service experiences 
  • Encourage others to be patient when there are long lines or not enough staff 
  • Smile – sometimes just being nice can make the biggest impact on someone’s day 
  • Shop with stores that you have seen treat their workers well 
  • Share stories of retail workers going above and beyond on Jobcase.com or other social media platforms 

Jobcase conducted a survey of over 1,000 American consumers and 1,000 retail workers using Propeller Insights in October 2021.


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