4 Retail Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well

Good paying retail jobs can be found at Costco stores.  Retail salesperson is the most common job in America. The sector is still growing, but most of the jobs come with lousy compensation. The average salary? Just $25,310 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There's no great mystery as to why companies keep salaries low -- it's an easy way to keep profit margins up. But Zeynep Ton, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, argued in an article in the Harvard Business Review that the tactic usually backfires. By cutting back on manpower, companies experience a drop in performance, which, in turn, leads to a dip in customer satisfaction, and then the ultimate corporate problem -- a drop-off in sales. Home Depot is a case in point:
When former GE executive Robert Nardelli became CEO, at the end of 2000, he cut staffing levels and increased the percentage of part-timers to reduce costs and boost profits. Those moves achieved both goals immediately, but they eventually caused Home Depot's excellent customer service -- the company's claim to fame and, arguably, primary source of competitive advantage -- to suffer, customer satisfaction to plunge, and same-store sales growth to drop and even go negative in some years.

Treating workers well pays off in the long run, Ton argues. She says that four employers, Costco, Trader Joe's, QuikTrip and the Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona, are prime examples. Here's why:

More: Top 10 Companies Hiring Part-Time Workers

1. Trader Joe's

The Trader Joe's Company has more than 365 stores in more than 30 states, and offers upscale grocery fare such as health foods, produce and nutritional supplements. It has some 10,000 employees.

Starting salary: $40,000 to $60,000. Managers also have the potential to earn six-figure salaries.
Benefits: Trader Joe's contributes an additional 15.4 percent of your gross income each year to your retirement account.

2. Costco

Costco Wholesale Corp. has more than 590 membership warehouse stores in 40 U.S. states and Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.K. It has roughly 174,000 employees.

Starting salary: Stockers and cashiers make on average between $11.84 to $12.61 an hour. The average starting salary for a full-time employee is $45,000 a year, compared to just $17,000 for Sam's Club.
What the CEO says: "At Costco, we know that paying employees good wages makes business sense."

​3. QuikTrip

QuikTrip Corp. operates more than 600 gasoline/convenience stores in 10 states, mostly in the central U.S. It has roughly 9,600 employees.

Starting salary: An entry-level clerk earns an average of $8.66 an hour, but most store managers are promoted from within and are paid relatively well. The overall salary average for all staff is $32,966.
Happy employees: Fortune magazine has named QuikTrip one of the 100 best companies to work for in every year since 2003. It has robust training programs for workers -- even low-level employees receive two weeks of training. Employees also like working here -- staff turnover is 22 percent, the lowest in the industry.

​4. Mercadona

Mercadona S.A. has 1,419 stores throughout Spain. It has roughly 70,000 employees and is expanding, having hired 6,500 employees last year alone. It is known for offering consumers the lowest prices in Spain.

Starting salary: Spain has an extraordinarily high unemployment rate of 26 percent; salaries tend to be rock bottom. According to the website Hoy, the base salary for a Mercadona supermarket clerk is 12,600 euros a year or roughly $16,400 -- that's still about a $1,000 a year higher than the average salary for clerks in Spain. But what makes Mercadona exceptional in Spain is that it pays bonuses and gives raises.
Employee perks: Employees get extensive training -- one month's worth versus just seven hours for the typical grocery worker in the U.S. And most importantly to quality of life, employees have predictable schedules. Workers learn their schedules one month in advance and don't have to work different shifts from one day to the next. They're also given full-time schedules, something that low-wage workers in the U.S. often lack.

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beware of costco's supposedly great pay. they pay that well, because for most people they don't keep you after you after 90 days probation.. I had a family member that worked at costco and even picked up an extra shift because they were shorthanded. The day this family member worked, extra shift, they let her go stating "you didn't meet up to costco standards".... kind of a discriminating statement don't you think? Also, during this, "shorthanded" time my family member was willing to work to help out, this Plano based costco was having an internal investigation going on for multiple employees involved in theft or other bad things within the store - yet a person like my family member that was busting her butt to get better "to costco standards" she was let go...... I called the company and told them they are a joke - offering all these great things, but that only if you meet the 90 days.... that's how they pay so good - they only have to pay for a short time and than their on to the next gullible person. I believe Sams Club is looking a lot better for shopping for now on.

June 16 2013 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 14 2013 at 1:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They should add Burlington Coat Factory to that list of worst to work for, start at minimum wage, less then 25 hrs week, no benifits. They have per store an average of 5 full timers, one per department. Employees are driven like mules to do the work of three people or they are termed. The managers do not have it any better, they eliminated department managers and added more responsibility to the four managers left. And they wonder why they have poor customer service scores. They are all stressed and low morale.

April 13 2013 at 9:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the trick here is full time employees - the vast majority of retail workers a part time less than 30 hours/week - no company paid benefits

April 13 2013 at 5:51 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

QuikTrip's average worker makes $8.66 and this is supposed to be one of the better companies to work for? Yet, Walmart is criticized for their low wages, where I started at $8.90 per hour in 2005. QuikTrip is exploiting their workers to a tune greater than Walmart but I don't hear criticizing, just glorifying.

April 09 2013 at 2:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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