In recent years, retail has become one of the largest private-sector employers in the country. Despite the financial success of their employers, however, retail employees increasingly struggle to make ends meet.

The Retail Action Project conducted a study of retail workers called Discounted Jobs: How Retailers Sell Workers Short. The results from the report, published in 2012, show alarming trends in the retail sector — trends that make it difficult for workers to cover basic needs and raise families on the salaries they earn.

The study found that

  • Only 17% of retail workers surveyed have a regular schedule
  • About 34% of relied on public assistance
  • Over half earn less than $10/hour
  • More than 70% don’t get health insurance from their jobs
  • 77% of Latina retail workers made under $10/hour

Ending these unjust employment practices requires law and policy change, but as consumers we can take positive actions to achieve economic justice.

How to Be a Conscientious Retailer Shopper

The Center for Frontline Retail, a Ms. Foundation grantee, founded the Shoppers’ Alliance to help shoppers act in solidarity with retail workers as they shop. We reached out to them for the following simple tips on becoming a more conscientious shopper.

  • Take time out from shopping to tell a manager you support workers on the sales floor.
  • Research news articles on retail stores and share the information with your networks.
  • Sign retail worker petitions on
  • Email retail corporate offices and your elected officials to let them know you support stability and fair treatment of frontline sales and support associates.
  • Follow the Center for Frontline Retail on Facebook for information on joining the Shopper’s Alliance and achieving economic justice in retail.

Together we can make a difference!