The retail industry is one of the largest employers of women, with 7.2 million in its ranks. But most of these are retail saleswomen and cashiers, whose hourly wage is $10.58.
The gender pay gap in retail costs women nearly $41 billion annually. Male sales associates earn $14.62 an hour, or $4.04 more than women in the same jobs, according to new report by Demos, a public policy organization. Lost wages to women negatively impact the economy by reducing consumer demand and costing jobs. If these trends continue, by 2022 women will lose $381 billion in cumulative wages, the study said.
The lack of hours and lack of predictable, stable schedules for hourly workers are obstacles for women trying to work their way out of poverty. The study points to the impact of the rise of just-in-time scheduling in the retail industry, a growing practice where retailers use scheduling software to measure consumer demand to match workers’ hours to the projected need for labor on a daily or even hourly basis. As a result, women don’t know how many hours they’ll work in a given week or month and lose opportunities for better jobs.
The study looks at the retail industry as it is today, as it will look in 2022 if trends continue, and how it could look if the nation’s largest retailers — companies employing at least 1,000 workers — raised wages and improved employee schedules.
Today, 1.3 million women working in the retail industry live in or near poverty. If current trends continue, there will be 1.4 billion women living in poverty by 2022, plus the nearly 2.5 million family members they help to support.
Demos describes the benefits of raising the voluntary wage floor to $25,000 a year for full-time workers. The wage gap would narrow significantly even if both men and women got the same raise. Gross domestic product would grow an estimated $6.9 billion to $8.9 billion just from women’s portion of the raise, or $12.1 billion to $15.7 billion from both portions, leading to the creation of 105,000 to 136,000 new jobs.
The additional payroll costs would represent a small fraction of total sales, the study said. The cost of a wage increase to $25,000 a year for full-time employees, both men and women, comes to $21.5 billion, or less than 1 percent of the $4.3 trillion in total annual retail sales. It represents 4.1 percent of the 2012 payroll for the retail sector. “The recent move by Gap is a sign that companies can change to improve the quality of jobs,” said Amy Traub, Demos senior policy analyst.
Not everyone agrees. The National Retail Federation on April 1 called Senate legislation aimed at increasing the federal minimum wage by 40 percent “an antijob tax that would lead to higher labor costs for employers and fewer opportunities for young and entry-level workers....Raising the standard of living for low-skill, low-wage workers is a valid goal. But there is clear evidence that mandated wage hikes undermine the job prospects for less-skilled and part-time workers.”
Using profits to pay for better wages and schedules would be more productive than the trend toward stock repurchases, Demos contended. The top 10 largest retailers in 2013 spent $26.3 billion on stock repurchases, compared with the $21.5 billion all large retailers could have reinvested in their workers.
The potential cost to consumers would be just a few cents more per shopping trip. If companies were to pass half of the costs of a wage increase on to customers, the average household would pay 15 cents more per trip, or $17.73 a year, the study found.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. turned up several times in the report, including in connection with a study by Americans for Tax Fairness that claims the world’s largest retailer receives $6.2 billion annually in taxpayer subsidies in the form of benefits that supplement its low wages.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye