40% of retail employees say struggling to pay their bills is causing excessive stress

Almost 40% of retail employees are suffering from excessive stress due to low pay and growing bills, according to an employee study of stress levels across UK job sectors. With the cost of living rising at the fastest rate in almost 40 years, this will only exacerbate retail employee stress levels.

The findings come as up to 30% have taken time off work for mental health reasons and 16% of workers in the industry have taken statutory sick days or unpaid leave due to mental health issues.

28% of retail workers felt their employers didn’t provide the support they needed and bad management left almost a quarter (23%) of retail employees feeling excessive levels of stress.

The Mental Health, Stress and Quitting Smoking study, conducted by vaping retailer Vape Club, asked retail professionals working for 67 employers in the UK about their experience of stress and mental health issues in the workplace, the cause of excessive stress in their role and the impacts on life outside of work.

retail employees

The study found two in five retail workers experience excessive stress from struggling to pay their bills. As household energy bills are expected to be £1,570 more per year from October*, this is only set to create further pressure on employees. Compared to employees in other UK sectors – nearly double the number of retail workers are considering leaving their jobs because of excessive stress, in comparison to only 13% of people who were close to quitting their roles across the healthcare, teaching & education, transport & logistics and finance industries. 5% of retail workers have already left the industry and a further 26% are thinking about leaving retail.

In PwC’s recent ‘Great Rethink’ survey, 83% of organisations said they’re considering interventions to help employees cope with the rising cost of living. In the retail, travel & leisure and consumer sector, 42% are focused on pay increases for certain groups and 34% are considering additional pay reviews.

However, other research by insurer Royal London found 16% of workers have taken on a second job to help pay their bills, equating to 5.2 million people across the UK. While 30% of people said they will need an additional job if the cost of living continues to rise.

Danni Scott, previous employee at a leading consumer electronics retailer, says:

“Retail is a melting pot of different pressures. We deal with aggressive and disrespectful customers daily, management structures that deem us replaceable and low wages for a lot of work. I have been reduced to tears multiple times because of people shouting at me for things I could not control. 

I think the biggest issue retail needs to combat is to put more procedures in place to stop customer-facing employees from having to deal with the wrath of complaints. Zero-tolerance policies go a long way to helping employees feel respected and looked after by their companies. Listen to your employees, if there is a policy implemented that is not working out and your staff are telling you that it doesn’t work then listen to them”.