mall-holidayshopping_thumb-1.png
mall-holidayshopping_thumb-1.png This article is more than 5 years old

Over 1 million Canadian retail workers won’t earn a living wage this holiday shopping season

The low-paid retail clerks and cashiers who ring in those sales might wish their employers left their stockings a little fuller.

PP.gif

Canadian retailers are expecting billions in revenue this holiday shopping season, but the low-paid retail clerks and cashiers who ring in those sales might wish their employers left their stockings a little fuller.

Nearly two million Canadians will be working in the retail sector this holiday season and one-fifth of those workers earn the minimum wage – a number that has almost doubled since the late 1990s.

Overall, Canadian retail workers earn an average wage of $14.15/hr. And six in 10 retail workers earn below $15/hr, generally considered the floor for making ends meet in Canada.

However, the living wage tends to vary from city to city. Workers in Toronto need to earn $18.52/hr to make enough to live on, and they’ll need $20.68/hr in Vancouver$20.10/hr in Halifax$18.15/hr in Calgary or $14.07/hr in Winnipeg, to offer a few examples.

But this doesn’t need to be the case for retail workers.

In Sweden, 90% of workplaces are covered by collective bargaining agreements and 60% of retail workers are unionized – Swedish retail workers earn 40% more than Canadian retail workers, they receive greater overtime pay for working holidays and weekends and they also receive five weeks paid vacation too.

And although more Canadians now work in retail than any other sector, only 12% of retail workers belong to a union.

canada-retailworkers-occupation.jpg

A recent CIBC report warned the quality of jobs in Canada are “deteriorating,” with more and more Canadians finding themselves in low-paying part-time jobs.

The growth of precarious retail jobs also coincides with the decline of unionized manufacturing jobs, particularly in Ontario where the manufacturing sector shed 300,000 jobs between 2004 and 2012 alone.

These shifts are also driving inequality within Canadian cities too – not only between knowledge and service sector workers, but within the retail sector as well.

Social policy expert John Stapleton notes that while high-end retailers (Nordstrom and Saks) and low-end retailers (Dollarama) are “booming” in Toronto, middle-end retailers (Target, Sears, Future Shop) have been “turned into a wasteland because an anemic demographic cannot support what it’s selling.”

Not only does that help explain the growth of the “working poor” in Canada’s cities – it could help explain why some analysts are predicting this year’s holiday retail sales will be “fairly flat” compared to previous years.

Photo: Shutterstock.

Our journalism is powered by readers like you.

We’re an award-winning non-profit news organization that covers topics like social and economic inequality, big business and labour, and right-wing extremism.

Help us build so we can bring to light stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from Canada’s big corporate media outlets.

 

Donate
PressProgress
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

CUPE_PicketShifts News

The ‘Freedom Convoy’ is Turning Into a Christian Nationalist Revival Movement

Related Stories

News

5,000 Winnipeg City Workers Poised to Strike for the First Time in a Century

View the post
News

TELUS Wanted Workers to Stay Quiet About Off-Shoring Practice to Protect Its Image, Documents Show

View the post
New

Ford Government to Move Hospital Patients to Long-Term Care, But Proactive Inspections Still On Hold

View the post

Explainers

Human rights & inclusion

Amira Elghawaby

Here’s The Problem With Hoping Corporations Will Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible On Their Own

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

The battle of the PACs in Calgary’s municipal election

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

27 Different Candidates are Vying to be Calgary’s Mayor. Here Are the Biggest Issues at Stake.

View the post
Newspapers always have a business section – why not a labour section? We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers.
We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers