Playing catch up to rival Target, Walmart announced on Thursday it will, beginning february, be raising its workers’ starting wage rate for hourly employees to $11 per hour – matching the minimum wage that Target has been paying employees since October 2017. Target however announced in September 2017 that it plans to pay $15 an hour by the end of 2020, which means despite today’s announcement, Walmart still has a lot of catching up to do.
“Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S…We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders,” ,” Wal-Mart’s CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement..
“However, some guiding themes are clear and consistent with how we’ve been investing — lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology.”
The changes are set to take place in February.
The retailer’s hourly workers currently make a starting wage of $9, which is increased to $10 after they complete a training program.
Walmart also announced it would increase parental and maternal leave benefits and give eligible employees a one-time cash bonus for as much as $1,000.
The changes follow the passage of the GOP-backed tax reform legislation last month.
JetBlue and Bank of America have made similar announcements in the wake of the legislation’s passage.
Today, Walmart also abruptly closed 63 of it’s Sam’s Club locations across the US. Some stores were closed on Thursday. Others will reportedly close at a later date. Many employees who have now lost their jobs were not informed of the closures ahead of time, according to reports.
Sam’s Club offered an explanation for the closures on Twitter, saying, “After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.”
EARLIER : Attention Wal-Mart: Target Raises Base Pay, Targets $15/Hr By 2020 – Target announced on Monday (September 25, 2017) that it would raise its minimum hourly wage from $10 to $11 next month and then to $15 an hour by the end of 2020. The company says the new rate would apply to all staff as well as the 100,000 temporary workers it plans to hire this holiday season.
Target says its hourly wage of $11 will match minimums in Massachusetts and Washington and is higher than required in the other 48 states.
Target’s stock price is down 16 percent this year. In May, the retailer agreed to pay $18.5 million to 47 states and the District of Columbia in a settlement after its data breach in 2013.
Amid a low unemployment rate, Target and other retailers must use better pay and perks to attract workers for the holiday season.
Target and its competitors are contending with a nationwide unemployment rate that dropped to 4.3 percent in May and July — the lowest level in 16 years — before ticking up slightly in August. With a shallow pool of job seekers, they must compete harder for workers to handle the holiday shopping crush.
Retailers are closing thousands of stores this year as they try to cut costs and compete with online retailers, most notably Amazon. But come the Christmas season — the busiest period of the year for the industry — malls are still swamped and stores need all the help they can get.
Turnover, though, has been a persistent problem, saddling many stores with heavy recruitment and training costs. And increased demand for labor intensifies their efforts to poach talent, with companies dangling better pay and juicy perks to woo candidates.”
Rival Bentonville, Arkansas based retailer, Wal-Mart, which employs about 1.5 million Americans, helped accelerate the wage war in 2015, when it announced plans to raise wages to $9 an hour. The following year, Wal-Mart said new hires could earn $10 after a monthslong training course. Executives have said the wage investment and new training programs cost the company $2.7 billion, an expense that ate into profits and weighed on the stock.
Walmart says it has been benefiting from its investments in its workers and that it has seen lower turnover and improved customer service scores.
Smaller companies are feeling the pressure as chains like Walmart and Target make broad-based wage investments.
The average hourly pay for cashiers is now $10.14, according to the Korn Ferry Hay Group’s survey of 140 retailers with annual sales of at least $500 million. The survey was conducted in May. A year ago, it was $9.79.
“For some retailers, the holiday season can represent as much as 30 percent of annual sales. Overall last year, holiday sales represented nearly 20 percent of total retail industry sales.” the National Retail Federation says.
One key to a retailer’s success is an effective pool of workers and employees that stick around after they’ve been hired.