Walmart has announced it is giving 565,000 of its US store staff a raise of at least $1 just before the upcoming holiday season.
The grocer has given its workers the boost before the all important holiday season which marks the biggest time of year for most retailers, and makes up the majority of their annual sales on days such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Last year’s holiday season was worth nearly $800 billion last year in the US alone.
Retailers often cope with the busy period by hiring thousands of temporary workers on competitive wages and offering work benefits.
Walmart rival Target provided its temporary employees a coronavirus health plan and a wage of $15 an hour, up from $13 the year before.
There are still concerns however that the Delta variants persistence in the country will affect the number of store workers over the holiday season.
“The biggest challenge for retailers going into the holiday season is going to be how do they get the sales associates and the warehouse workers in position to fulfill demand,” global consumer practise consultancy Kearney Greg Portell said.
The average hourly rate at Walmart is currently $16.40 according to the company’s chief executive John Furner in a memo to staff.
This figure is up on the mean hourly wage for retail sales staff, which is $14.87, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new wage hike will come into action from September 25, Furner announced.
While the $1 pay increase will leave Walmart some staff earning nearly $3 more than that average hourly wage for retail staff, some Walmart employees are unhappy with the rise.
Walmart worker Cynthia Murray said: “When Walmart touts its average pay at $16.40 an hour, it distracts from the reality that its business model still relies on poverty wages.”
Murray believes a flat minimum wage of $15 would be fair as the workers are facing the risk of contracting Covid-19 while they work.