Retail Revolving Door Slows as More Hourly Workers Stay Put, According to Korn Ferry Survey

Los Angeles, Nov. 3, 2023 – According to a new Korn Ferry survey of more than 100 U.S. retailers, the current economic environment is causing changes in retail employee turnover and shifts in the way retailers are approaching hiring.

Nearly a third of respondents (30%) say turnover among hourly store employees is down 10% or more from the previous year.

In addition, a third (33%) say they have restricted new position hiring, replacing only for turnover. That’s about double the figure from 2022, when just 18% percent said they were restricting new position hires and replacing just for turnover.

In 2022, nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) said they were hiring for new positions in addition to replacing for turnover. That number fell to just 55% this year.

“Both retail employees and employers are being more cautious as we head into the holiday season,” said Korn Ferry Senior Partner and retail expert Craig Rowley. “Retailers are thinking twice about adding new roles, which has employees re-thinking leaving one job in search of another.”

In terms of compensation, the most common national minimum start rates for store employees are $12/hour and $15/hour (22% each). Just 3% said the minimum start rate is $16 or more and 25% said the minimum rate is $10 or less.  

While 43% of respondents say they have no plans for a $15/hour national minimum start rate for store employees, 25% say they already have a $15/hour minimum or higher.

Distribution center employees fared a bit better. The survey found that 27% of respondents say the national minimum start rate for distribution center employees this year is $15/hour, with 23% putting that figure at $16/hour and 17% citing $17/hour.

“While compensation is important, it’s only one part of the retention puzzle,” said Rowley. “Even though turnover is trending downward, it’s important to continue to focus on culture to attract and keep valued employees.”

About the survey

The Korn Ferry survey of more than 100 major U.S. retailers, with annual revenues between $500 million to more than $20 billion, took place in October 2023.

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

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Dan Gugler