In Miami, Florida, a Walmart employee stocks the shelves on January 24, 2023. Walmart has announced that it will raise its minimum wage for store employees in early March, with an expected hourly rate of $14 to $19 per hour.
Walmart has decreased the starting salary for new store staff who handle online orders and stock shelves, causing speculation about whether the company is experiencing a weakening labor market or returning to pre-pandemic retail business.
The retailer announced in July that they would be cutting starting wages for personal shoppers and stockers who are now part of the company. These workers are responsible for preparing orders to be delivered to customers’ homes or curbsides, as well as replenishing store shelves.
Walmart employees who join the digital or stocking teams now earn about one dollar per hour less than they would have if hired just months ago.
Anne Hatfield, a spokesperson for Walmart, stated that no current employees in those positions had received remuneration. In July, the company altered the pay bands for more experienced employees, which resulted in 50,000 store employees receiving severance payments.
With 1.6 million employees, Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S. and is closely monitored by economists and industry leaders who have searched for indications of merchandise inflation and merchandise cooling. As a result, it increased its store employee minimum wage from $12 to $14 from January, while still facing tough labor markets and paying lower wages than its competitors like WalMart and Amazon.
It remains unclear if the company has experienced an increase in hiring, as Hatfield declined to disclose.
Walmart stated that it made adjustments to maintain a consistent starting salary for store employees, regardless of their role in cash register operations, stocked shelves, or online orders.
According to the statement, a consistent starting pay leads to better staffing levels and improved customer service, as well as new avenues for associates to learn new skills from experience across the store and establish their career paths regardless of their current position.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on wage changes.
In March 2021, Walmart announced a new pay raise for its personal shoppers and stockers. It also hiked wages for 425,000 employees, making their rates ranging from $13 to $19 per hour, depending on the store’s location and market.
Walmart treated its employees as professionals with the change. Additionally, it offers higher starting salaries for certain positions such as cake decorating and oil changes in auto centers.
During the change, the big-box retailer was experiencing increased sales in grocery and e-commerce. A larger number of Americans were getting Covid-19 vaccinations and seeking out products like teeth whitening to help them feel better about themselves.
The announcement of the change was made by Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner through a company memo, which cited rapid growth in company sales and the company’s ability to pick up and deliver 6 billion items in the past year.
Retailers have noticed a trend of shoppers returning to their pre-pandemic shopping habits, visiting stores more frequently and being less inclined towards online shopping. This has resulted in lower e-commerce sales for companies like Macy’s and Target.
Despite the pandemic, Walmart has managed to maintain strong online sales growth. E-commerce sales for Walmart U.S. increased by 24% year over year during the fiscal second quarter, its most recent three-month report. However, this is not as significant as the gains made during some of the earlier years of that pander.
On Thursday, Walmart’s shares peaked at a 52-week high. This year, the company’S stock has risen by roughly 15%, which is just behind the S&P 500’or its gains but ahead of many other retailers.