57% of UK retail staff say their wages barely cover basic expenses

Study finds that UK shop workers are faring much worse financially than European counterparts

One in ten use food banks and nearly a third rely on friends and family to help with living expenses

43% are clocking up more hours than they ever have – rising to 60% for those in wholesale roles

Following the release of the British Retail Consortium’s Crime Survey 2024 Report, revealing a 50% rise in abuse and violence aimed at shop staff, new data shows that more than half of UK retail workers say their wages barely meet even basic living costs – despite many putting in longer hours than ever to keep up with inflated expenses.


Frontline staff across several industries, including retail and wholesale, were polled in the pan-European study by workforce management experts Quinyx. Four in ten UK retail employees (43%) said they’re working more hours than they ever have in order to meet increased living costs and support their families. For those in wholesale jobs, this rises to 60%.

Pointing to a significant financial disparity between retail staff in the UK and those in other parts of Europe, UK employees were much more likely to say their wages barely cover living costs (57%) than their counterparts in The Netherlands (31%), the Nordics (33%) and Germany (39%). For wholesale workers, the gap is even greater – 57% of UK staff, compared to 18% in The Netherlands, 22% in the Nordics and 27% in Germany say they can barely afford basic living expenses.

Despite a third (33%) of retail staff receiving a pay rise last year, 10% said they’d had to use food banks, while 29% had to accept financial support from friends and family to cover basic costs.

Toma Pagojute, chief HR officer at Quinyx, says: “The British Retail Consortium’s findings are shocking, and while no amount of pay would make the current situation acceptable, the fact that many retail staff are barely scraping by financially seems like another insult.

“If there’s a positive to take from the BRC report, it’s that it is shedding greater light on retail crime and encouraging action to make frontline workers safer. We hope it also brings opportunities to review employees’ experiences as a whole, considering all factors that can affect their mental and physical health.

“Pay is part of that, particularly as we’re still facing higher interest rates and increased living costs. In addition to any legislation brought in regarding customer behaviour and staff protection, employers should always consider the wellbeing of their workforce and look for ways to help frontliners feel less stressed, overwhelmed and overworked. This might be through flexible scheduling or improved communications – and generally making staff feel like they matter and their contributions are valued.”