Year in and year out, the retail industry has been one of the largest employers in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 15.2 million people work in the retail trade as of October 2020. Most jobs require entry-level skills, so hourly pay is generally at the lower end of the pay scale but typically higher than minimum wage.
Retail jobs that pay higher than the median wage come at a premium, often requiring more experience and training. Workers in production and non-supervisory roles earn almost $18 per hour. The highest paying retail jobs go to front-line supervisors and managers, who pull in a little over $19 per hour. Cashiers, customer service reps, and sales and stock clerks make anywhere between $11.40 and $13.65 per hour. This information is on a national level and would be higher for states with a higher minimum wage.
The highest-paying retail jobs are found at some of the industry's leading retailers and include a comprehensive offering of employee benefits.
The number of people the retail industry employed as of October 2020.
Costco Wholesale (COST) is an undisputed leader in the membership warehouse club business, with 782 stores across the globe, $149 billion in revenue, and 254,000 employees. Workers in the U.S. report making more than $17 per hour, while some earn up to $26 per hour, which are some of the highest hourly rates in the industry. The company also provides a 401(k) plan, bonus pay, and vision, dental, and health benefits.
Nordstrom (JWN) began in 1901 as a humble shoe shop in Seattle and now operates more than 350 stores in the U.S. and Canada. It employs 71,000 workers on a full- or part-time basis. Nordstrom is renowned for offering some of the best benefits in the industry. Employees report making an average of roughly $16 per hour.
No company has disrupted the retail industry as much as Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), which had $170 billion in North American sales at the end of 2019. Amazon is a logistics powerhouse, operating from 192 million square feet of warehouse space in its home market.
As of Dec. 31, 2019, an army of 798,000 full- and part-time employees work around the clock to make sure your package arrives on time. These fulfillment center jobs pay a minimum of $15 and include health care, 401(k) plans with company matching, and parent leave, though benefits vary by state.
Lowe's Companies (LOW) has 2,200 stores in the U.S. and Canada and employs approximately 300,000 associates. Employees report earning an average of approximately $13 per hour, though some workers earn as much as $19 per hour. Lowe's offers an array of benefits, including retirement, health, dental, vision, and life insurance.
Home Depot (HD) perhaps was the first to bring the economics of big box retailing to do-it-yourself home improvement. It was founded in 1978 and now has 1,984 stores in the United States. It employs 415,700 associates, of whom 29,500 are salaried.
Home Depot sales associates, who proudly don the orange apron, report earning $12.69 per hour, though others make upwards of $18 per hour. Benefits include bonus pay, tuition reimbursement, 401(k) and employee stock purchasing plans, medical, dental, and vision plans, life insurance, adoption assistance, and a host of employee discounts.
Opened in 1983, the warehouse retailer operated by Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) now has nearly 600 stores in the U.S. Sam's Club rang up $57.8 billion in sales in 2019, lagging behind its larger rival Costco. Eligible employees have access to retirement benefits, stock purchasing plans, healthcare, parental leave, $5,000 of adoption assistance, and college tuition assistance. Employees report earning an average of $12.42 per hour, with others making upwards of $17 per hour.
At Best Buy (BBY), one of the largest retailers of technology products in the U.S., associates are trained in the sale of products ranging from computers and peripherals to high-end cameras and the latest flat-screen TVs. Employees report earning roughly $13.24 per hour, and some earn as much as $19 per hour. Benefits include medical, dental and vision plans, maternity support and paid leave, 401(k) and stock purchasing plans, life insurance, flexible spending accounts, adoption assistance, and tuition assistance.
Since its founding in 1969, Gap Inc. (GPS) has created a global fashion empire, which includes the Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix, and Hill City brands. As of Dec. 31, 2019, it operates 3,345 company-owned stores and 574 franchise locations and has a presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Employee benefits include health care, 401(k) and employee stock purchasing plans, commuter benefits, tuition reimbursement, and discounts on merchandise. Gap employees report making an average of $13.67 per hour.
Big Lots (BIG) is one of the largest discount retailers targeting people who shop on a budget. Employees report earning an average of $11.49 per hour. On top of that, Big Lots offers benefits such as health, dental and vision plans, 401(k) plans with company matching, education assistance, and flexible spending accounts.
With stores located throughout the world, Staples is a leading brand in retail office supplies. Sales associates are trained in all facets of office supplies and technology, including computers and peripherals, handheld electronics, office furniture, and office services. Employees report earning an average of $12.68 per hour. Benefits include health coverage, flexible spending accounts, 401(k) plans, adoption assistance, and employee discounts.