The 3 Biggest Myths About Retail Workers

retail jobs low pay

Employees at Walmart, the world's largest retailer, are striking for the first time in 50 years. It's hard to believe it took so long. Walmart Stores Inc. is a massive corporation, yet many workers receive low wages and are denied benefits.

But a couple of big myths about retail workers keep the public from believing they should receive higher pay and benefits, according to a report by Stephanie Luce at City University of New York and Naoki Fujita at the Retail Action Project.

These perceptions are dangerous because they affect more than 14 million retail workers.

Here are some of the biggest myths that hold retail workers back:

  • Myth 1: Most retail workers are teenagers with little education or experience. Not so: according to the National Retail Federation, 70 percent of workers are older than 25 and more than half have a college education.
  • Myth 2: Retail workers are "part-time" and aren't entitled to health-care benefits, sick days or time off. The majority of retail workers are full-time -- more than two-thirds, according to the NRF -- yet don't get any benefits.
  • Myth 3: Retail workers are young people with few responsibilities. About 30 percent of people surveyed by Luce and Fujita supported dependents on their income. Yet, the average hourly wage was only $10 an hour, with many employees making less than that.

These myths about retail workers hold millions of people back from getting better pay and benefits. The truth is that most employees rely on their jobs to make a living and support a family.

If the public realized this, retail workers such as those at Walmart would have more support in their plight.

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Walmart has the largest work force with Employees making ends meet with food stamps.

October 15 2012 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to realrambo's comment

Wrong, that would be the military.

October 15 2012 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hello bethers

walmart is not the only retailer with this problem, ALL of the big box store workers suffer from the same issues. Big Red (not it's real name but they track comments about them and retaliate) is just as bad and threaten the employees if they even whisper the work strike or union.

October 15 2012 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Places like Wal Mart do need to change and set an example. World's biggest employer and world's wealthiest country, but low wages and poor quality jobs.

October 15 2012 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lady Marmalade

Retail work is very "hurried". You have to multi-task all the time. The pay is low, and they never quite bring most of the employees up to 40 hrs per week. (they will cut you off at 39 or 39 1/2 hrs - (no benefits) Wal-Mart is considered one of the worst,& from my experience, Target is no better.

October 15 2012 at 12:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Most everything was fine in this country before all this cost cutting the past 25 years. You can't live or fund anything on low paying part time jobs. Our country debt is way beyond most citizens un standing of simple math. People that do not see passed pus chasing a product or service at the lowest sub par cost no matter who they hurt in these processes are only hurting their own future. Those of you who embraced it when it didn't effect you, well now that shoes on the other foot, enjoy. Stop shopping at or working for these kind of companies, they will have no choice but to pay more. Wake up American!

October 15 2012 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One thing that one has to understand. An employer, large or Mom and Pop, is hiring you, not your family. If they offer benefits, good for you if they do not, that is just the way it is. Take the time while working there to learn an actual needed skill then move on.

October 15 2012 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to arenadood's comment
hello bethers

yeah, cause that works so good, my son has a masters degree and a ton of college debt and was a straight a student and is having a hard time finding a job in his field. people do what they have to do to make ends meet, that does not mean they have to accept being treated like crap because they have to take a retail job instead of sitting on their asses on government assistance.

October 15 2012 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My brother has worked retail all his working life (some 35 years), starting out as seasonal part-time in clerical positions at age 16 but advancing to full-time clerical (which then came with benefits) after high school and finally management positions. But he managed to buy a house 20 years ago (mortgage has been paid off for about 10 years already), get married, support a physically challenged wife, buy a new car every four years, pay off his credit cards every month, and take a nice vacation every year. And he will get a pension when he retires. How can the naysayers who refuse to work retail explain that? Oh, right - he's an exception, I guess.

October 15 2012 at 11:33 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Judith's comment
Meredith Thorndike C

Sadly the industry as changed a lot since your brother started his career, if you work for a good company yes you can work up and have a career. I speak from experience I sell womans shoes at Nordstrom ( great company :) )and my family had a men's dept store for 80 years that closed in 87 due to changes in industry trends. With the increase in just part times shifts and low wages , raising cost of education many don't have a chance to work up. I have a college education and fell in but enjoy retail. There is still a ladder at the company I work for but many companies don't have that anymore. If your brother was 25 today would he have the same story?

November 29 2012 at 1:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Retail can't use all full-time workers since they hvae to meet the needs of their customers. It's easy to say no full-time so they don't have to pay benefits, but the reality is that cusetomers do not all shop at the same time of day. Retailers schedule their workers so they have help when it's needed, not when the workers want to work.
Walmart, as well as other retailers, are also very busy trying to make Wall Street happy. If the companies can't showa profit, their stock pprice goes down - never mind the customers or their workers.

October 15 2012 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Raymond's comment

I worked 25 years in retail. And actually it's easier for a manager to schedule full time
employees than it is part time employees. And truth be told... It really is all about
not having to provide benefits. Just before I retired in 2005 the company I worked for
raised the number of hours needed to be eligible for benefits from 32 hours to 36.
And dropped almost every employee down just below 36 hours.

October 15 2012 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What some don't realize is that retail stores keep the hours worked at less than 32 hrs. so that they don't have to pay benefits and they pay just above minimum wage... Not everyone who works in retail is uneducated and below you on the food chain..... Retail used to have more full time workers but as more stores became big corporations, they found it cheaper to hire 3 part-time workers to replace one full-time worker because they didn't have to pay benefits and could offer less per hr. since it was only part-time work... Customer service went out the window when this happened/ You lost the full-time workers who were there because they liked interacting with customers and helping them, you instead got kids in high school or college who could afford the luxury of the low wages... Most of the people who work retail now would rather be anywhere but where they are and they show it... If the retailers would give a living wage and benefits, then customer service would return to the shopping.

October 15 2012 at 9:56 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

THESE ARE MYTHS????????? I have a pt job and they don't offer me anything!

October 15 2012 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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