The talent landscape in retail has been through major shifts over the last few years, with big knock on-effects for salaries and in-demand skills. 

The post-pandemic reopening of brick and mortar businesses and high volumes of ecommerce activity stimulated a recruitment surge in 2021-22. This upward trend in demand, combined with a shortage of high-quality candidates, has driven average earnings up.

While perks, benefits, and company culture are key to successful hiring in retail, a competitive salary remains the central driver for many top candidates looking for new jobs. 

That’s why our 2023 Guide to Salaries and Hiring Strategy in Retail provides the latest data on average salaries across a massive range of job types in the sector. 

Download your 2023 Retail Salary Guide

The guide gives you access to invaluable retail remuneration data. Here, we will be sharing some of the other highlights, including in-demand roles and skillsets, and how to approach the current hiring landscape. 

Attracting retail talent in 2023

With high demand for retail talent and an on-going cost-of-living crisis, professionals are more than willing to seek new jobs offering higher salaries if they feel they are being underpaid. If you are looking to hire, it’s critical for employers to understand salary trends and make truly competitive offers. 

It’s not the only thing workers are looking for however. Lyndsey Sheridan, Business Manager at Page Personnel Retail, commented:

While salary remains a top priority for retail workers, stability and work/life balance have become just as important. With the cost-of-living crisis impacting both retail workers themselves and the disposable income of consumers, some candidates are even moving into other sectors. This is further shrinking the pool of workers with the right skillsets for retailers, adding pressure to this already candidate-short market.

This year, retailers will need to reassure candidates on multiple fronts, not only making a strong salary offer, but also demonstrating a positive working environment and the stable future of the business.

Demand for talent and skills

Despite macroeconomic challenges, there’s no doubt that employer in retail are keen to bring fresh talent onboard. Over the past three months, PageGroup have seen:

  • Over 100,000 retail roles advertised
  • Nearly 18,000 retail businesses recruiting

Demand is healthy across the market, with a relatively small bias towards London and the South East. In the past three months, we tracked tends hiring activity throughout the UK:

  • London (19,474 roles advertised)
  • Southern Home Counties (17,329)
  • Northern Home Counties (9,865)
  • South West and Wales (14,717)
  • Midlands (15,373)
  • North West (12,149)
  • Yorkshire and North East (10,700)
  • Scotland (7,380)

During the worst of the pandemic, online retail kept the economy moving, and demand for ecommerce professionals remains in high demand, along with a number of other more traditional. Our specialists have seen the strongest demand for the following head office roles:

  1. Online merchandiser
  2. Buyer
  3. Merchandiser
  4. Senior Buyer
  5. Digital Marketing Manager

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How temp talent could help your hiring

With access to top talent scarce, interim and temp hiring has emerged as an effective way for employers to source the skillsets they need. This strategy works wonders for several different reasons.

Adam McLaughlin, Associate Director at Michael Page Retail, commented: 

Interim staff in the sector are quick to onboard, as they are used to getting up to speed with new workplaces fast. Flexibility is core to their roles, and this flexibility can be seen in how well they integrate on the ground. For that reason, they tend to be good options for companies who can’t afford to waste time when filling a role.

In general, hiring moves much faster when it comes to temp, compared with permanent employees:

  • 10 days faster to receive a suitable CV (1 day vs. 11 days)
  • 24 days faster to schedule an interview (1 day vs. 25 days)
  • 34 days faster to agree a placement (14 days vs. 48 days)

In recent months, we have found that employers can move to the interview stage as little as one day from posting a job advertisement for a temp worker.

Market trends: From speed to digitalisation

We expect to see demand for interim retail talent continue to rise due to the shortage of permanent talent, and the flexibility offered by temporary appointments in a changing economy. The hiring market is also moving much faster than it traditionally has across the board due to heightened levels of competition.   

This can be hard for some employers to manage. Andy Schofield, Managing Consultant at Michael Page Retail, has the following advice: 

To speed up your hiring timelines, determine as early as possible whether or not the sort of candidate you need is actually available in the market for the price you can afford – decide where you are willing to compromise. Then you won’t have to pause and change the process halfway through.

Along with a faster pace of hiring, we are also seeing a continuation of the shift towards ecommerce. This was turbocharged by pandemic-related lockdowns, but many consumers have stuck with online platforms, preferring the convenience of home delivery. This is only accelerating the transition that was underway pre-pandemic and increasing demand for tech-savvy retail talent.

Upgrading your Employee Value Proposition (2023)

In our 2023 Retail Salary Guide, we explore what candidates are looking for from employers. We recently bolstered this research with a more detailed survey of retail professionals, asking them exactly what they want to see in a job offer to make the jump. 

It revealed that retail candidates are more passionate than average about work-life balance, with 78% considering this a key value when looking for a new role. Annual leave entitlement is also a significant perk, with two thirds of retail respondents saying they expect at least 28 days of paid holiday per year.

Employers looking to attract experienced retail talent should be sure to go beyond salary when promoting the opportunities they can offer. A fully optimised EVP will be necessary to secure the best candidates in 2023.

What's Next?

For more insights into current salary and skills trends in the retail sector, access your copy of our 2023 Retail Salary Guide today.

To discuss your hiring needs, get in touch with a member of the team today:

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