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7 February 2024

  • 74% of retail workers are worrying more about money.
  • 25% of UK households have less than £100 in savings.
  • There is currently £19 billion in unclaimed government support in the UK.

These statistics paint a picture of how the cost of living is impacting workers across the UK right now, particularly those on low-incomes. And, within the retail sector alone, research by the Retail Trust for its 2023 health of retail report found that rising costs are impacting the mental health of half of all workers and of the nine in ten affected by the cost-of-living crisis, 21% are struggling to meet their monthly outgoings.

Actions are certainly being taken to support colleagues with any financial challenges they might be facing. One third of the household name retailers interviewed by the Retail Trust for the health of retail report said they had issued pay rises that match or exceed rising inflation and half were providing other forms of financial assistance, such as help to pay bills or providing advances on their salary and interest free loans. Another three quarters said they offered financial education or money management advice.

Financial wellbeing programmes like these which give employees more control, visibility and flexibility over their pay, along with access to fair financial services, are becoming even more important as it’s well-established that effective benefits, such as flexible pay, lead to better business outcomes and have a positive impact on the retention, recruitment and productivity of staff.

So, with issues around recruitment and retention on the rise, financial wellbeing platform Wagestream has been working in partnership with the Retail Trust to better support employees in the retail sector with managing their money. With the Wagestream app, they can access a financial toolkit of simple-to-use benefits, to support them in creating financial habits that work for them. From a real-time interactive payslip, and automated rainy-day pots, to discounts at major retailers, and on-demand financial coaching – Wagestream aims to provide a comprehensive financial toolkit to support retail employees.

Peter Briffett, chief executive of Wagestream, says: “Partnering with the Retail Trust has been invaluable to us in helping retailers of all shapes and sizes to embed financial wellbeing solutions which make work more rewarding for their staff and in turn, strengthen their position as employers of choice. With the link between financial wellbeing and the health, happiness and resilience of workers so clear, financial wellbeing support is an employment trend which is only expected to grow in 2024.”

Chris Brook-Carter, chief executive of the Retail Trust, added: “The retail industry is the UK’s biggest employer outside of the public sector and one with a workforce whose wages are skewed to the lower end of the scale, making the cost-of-living crisis more acutely felt.

“Given the tight margins of the industry and the rate at which inflation has been rising we know there is a limit to the wage increases and financial aid that retailers can put in place. So, raising awareness of where to get help and providing tools like Wagestream’s app which allow people to support themselves are also important in helping to protect the financial wellbeing of the retail workforce.”

*Sources: Wagestream, Money and Pensions Service, and Policy in Practice.

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