Walmart to Lift Employee Wages

The average for some digital, order fulfillment positions soon will be more than $15 an hour.

February 19, 2021

BENTONVILLE, Ark.—Walmart will add more to the paychecks of 425,000 employees, raising the average wage to more than $15 per hour for certain positions related to the retail giant’s omnichannel shopping push, CNBC reports. The minimum starting wage for Walmart employees will stay at $11 per hour.

Starting March 13, Walmart indicated store workers in stocking and digital positions will see rates rise to $13 to $19 an hour, depending on each store. Fulfilling website and Walmart app orders and getting them into customers’ hands through curbside pickup and delivery is a crucial part of Walmart’s pandemic growth strategy.

“We saw major changes to customer behavior last year we believe will be lasting, and we have to continue working to stay in-stock, deliver items on time and provide the best omni experience possible,” said Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner told the Wall Street Journal.

pickup-exterior-signage-800.jpgIn its recent fourth-quarter earnings call, Walmart noted that the number of shopper trips fell 10.9% from the year-ago quarter, but shoppers are spending 21.9% more on average per trip.

As NACS Daily has reported, similar patterns are seen in the convenience retailing industry, according to consumer insights from PDI and NACS. Spend per transaction, which has been a bright spot for the convenience sector throughout much of the pandemic compared with pre-pandemic levels, climbed to +22.5% for the four weeks ended January 31, compared with +17.5% for the prior four-week period.

Meanwhile, raising wages is a hot-button issue. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has said in the past that the federal minimum wage should be more than the current $7.25 an hour.

During an investor meeting, McMillon said Walmart was taking a different approach to raising wages because hourly pay varies at the store level. The retailer is focusing on building a “ladder of opportunity” for its employees. Currently, around 75% of store management personnel started as hourly workers. “We will raise our starting wage over time, and I think our history proves that,” he said.

At 1.5 million people, Walmart is the biggest U.S. private-sector employer. Competitors Amazon and Target have beginning wages of $15 an hour. So far this year, 20 states have raised their minimum hourly wage. Meanwhile, Congress is considering the Raise the Wage Act as part of the Biden Administration’s stimulus package.

In other wage news, Kroger announced this week it would shutter two Seattle stores because of the city’s additional $4 per hour hazard pay mandate, CNN Business reports. “Unfortunately, Seattle City Council didn't consider that grocery stores—even in a pandemic—operate on razor-thin profit margins in a very competitive landscape,” the company said.

Kroger has closed two California stores because of similar hazard pay requirements. Earlier this month, two grocer associations filed lawsuits against Seattle and Oakland, Calif., because of hazard pay laws.

NACS is working with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute to help convenience retailers assess how good jobs could help them reduce costs, increase revenue and improve labor productivity. The Good Jobs Strategy, which is a combination of investment in people and smart operating choices, increases employee productivity, motivation and contribution and promotes operational excellence. Access the tools The Good Jobs Calculator, The Good Jobs Scorecard and The Good Jobs Strategy Diagnostic, and watch business leaders talk about the Good Jobs Strategy.