The increasing cost of living is affecting the mental health of more than half (52%) of retail workers, new figures suggest.
Research by industry charity the Retail Trust revealed that among the nine in 10 impacted by the crisis, one-fifth (21%) are struggling to manage their monthly outgoings, while 36% say financial pressures are making their already poor mental health even worse. Four in five (80%) believe their overall mental health is deteriorating.
The Health of retail report 2023, which surveyed more than 1,500 workers, further found that a third (33%) of employers have awarded pay rises matching or exceeding inflation.
Half (50%) of those polled have offered other financial support, such as help with paying bills, salary advances and interest-free loans. Additionally, three-quarters (75%) of organisations have provided financial education or advice around money management.
Chris Brook-Carter, chief executive of the Retail Trust, said: “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. Many retailers are taking steps to address this, such as by increasing wages, but there is a limit to what can be done given the tight margins of the industry and the rate at which inflation has been rising.
“Combined with other factors like an increase in abusive customers, this is all having a serious impact on the mental health of staff, with thousands continuing to face ongoing uncertainty, stress and risk of burnout without the support they need.”
Working with more than 200 businesses, the Retail Trust aims to improve employees’ hope, health and happiness.
Brook-Carter added: “We must work together to change this by raising awareness of where to get help, training managers to support their teams and giving people the tools to support themselves. Above all, we must listen. Employers who are prepared to ask the big questions and understand how people are really feeling in their organisation, and then act on this data, will be the ones who succeed in having an engaged, happy workforce.”