How to Find the Highest Wages in Retail

John Krautzel
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While the average retail employee makes just under $10 per hour as of 2015, earnings can vary widely, with some salespeople earning bonuses and commissions or taking advantage of profit-sharing programs. Although your experience can earn you a bit of a premium, your geographic location is far more likely to affect your wages. The most important factor predicting your wages, however, is the company for which you work. Certain companies are well-known as generous when it comes to paying their retail employees. When you set out to find the top retail jobs, take a look at the highest-paying employers.


The main way to find a high-paying retail job is to target your job search at retailers that are known for paying salespeople well. Nordstrom, for example, pays well, especially during the holidays and other busy seasons. In addition, sales performance is recognized with commissions. Employees also get significant discounts at the stores. The store focuses on having its retail workers build relationships with customers so that retail interactions remain positive.


In 2015, the retail venue that was ranked most highly by its employees as a great place to work was H-E-B, the supermarket chain based in Texas. The employees love the chain's CEO, and they appreciate the 401(k) plan and employee discounts. Pay at H-E-B ranks about 25 percent higher than pay at comparable outlets.

The Container Store

At The Container Store, wages run almost double the comparable wage for this type of retail store. The company's CEO considers it well worth the extra expense to pay his people well. He thinks that by hiring the best salespeople and customer service people, he still saves money, since these valued employees have such high productivity. As a result, turnover at the stores remains low and employees are happy to work there.

In-N-Out Burger

West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger ranked number two on the list of great retail stores to work at in 2015, according to Glassdoor. More than 90 percent of current workers are likely to recommend the job to a friend, and the employees praise the company's generosity, not only with wages but also with life insurance, vacation time and free food.

Honorable Mentions

Other top-paying retail stores include Bloomingdale's, Trader Joe's, Costco, Barnes & Noble, and Land's End. Many of these stores also win fans among their employees by providing top benefits. For example, Land's End offers discount on insurance and merchandise. Other stores keep employees loyal by treating them well. For example, Costco employees appreciate the fact that the stores stay closed on Thanksgiving.

Companies that pride themselves on their customer service need to recruit the very best salespeople they can. To keep them, they have to pay above the going rate in any region. If you're looking for the very top retail jobs, check out some of these companies and make sure you're offering them the high-quality performance they rely on to keep customers satisfied.

Photo Courtesy of John Lu at


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  • William Browning
    William Browning

    How do we find any hard numbers to quantify the overall value of retail wages? Can we combine a higher salary with an employee discount to achieve some kind of standard for gauging the best retail wages? I would love a high-paying job at Trader Joe's that combines with a 10 percent employee discount on groceries at any store. That would make my organic food shopping heavenly.

  • Jay Bowyer
    Jay Bowyer

    We should never undervalue ourselves in the retail industry. Online companies like Amazon often have the edge from a price perspective, but people who buy from physical stores really do expect a formidable level of professionalism. Digital purchases have made a dent in High Street store profits, to be sure — which is why we need to really excel in physical stores, and why we should never undersell our skills.

  • SCOTT D.
    SCOTT D.

    Does anyone know about Publix Supermarkets Inc. good bad or ?

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    I really agree with Shannon. Working for a smaller company can actually be the best way to go in retail. Smaller companies can set their own pace, and often have lower overhead and a smaller employee base. This creates more room for employee compensation. This isn't true for every small business, but you might be surprised that it is for many.

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    I think that jobseekers should not underestimate the value of working for smaller retail outlets or local businesses. The wages can be higher especially when these businesses have less employees to pay. It is also important to consider the responsibilities of the job and the hours/shifts required when evaluating pay.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Jane I truly believe that as companies benefit from brand exposure that, gradually, retail employees will also gain. Is it happening as rapidly as we would like. Absolutely not. Even though many employees have gone on strike for higher wages, companies are offering very small increases - if any at all. Corporate greed, as always, is still alive and well.

  • Jane H.
    Jane H.

    It's been a long time since I worked in retail, but as a shopper at Trader Joe's, I know from talking to the employees how much they enjoy working there compared to other stores. I'm actually surprised they didn't rank higher. PopSugar is always commenting on TJ's, pointing out their best products and so on. I'm aware of that kind of brand expansion in some of the other retailers on your list as well. Do you think only the company benefits from that exposure or do those sorts of activities also contribute to the company's ability to pay a higher wage and retain satisfied employees?

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