Christmas in retail: online sales take a boost with retail staff missing out

The impact of the outbreak has varied widely from sector to sector. One of the areas hardest hit was the physical retail industry. 

Retail closures have challenged an already fragile situation for the high street, with ecommerce sales accounting for more than 30% of total retail sales compared with just 22% in 2019 (Insider Intelligence).

For retail workers, this has meant months of furlough and extended periods of reduced wages. Without a boost in sales to rely upon over the Christmas period, January is set to be a difficult financial period. 

Employers in the sector have the power to stop financial uncertainty from having a lasting impact on their staff and help boost financial and mental wellbeing. 

Financial pressure from the first lockdown

As early as June, retail businesses had already furloughed 1.6 million workers. Whilst the furlough scheme has been a real positive for businesses and their staff, meaning they’ve been able to stay employed throughout, it was, for many, a significant reduction in income. 

The average monthly household expendable income reduced by around £515 – a 17% reduction (CEBR). 

2.87 million people affected by the outbreak are now at risk of long-term debt problems (StepChange, Tackling the coronavirus debt problem). 

A second lockdown for the retail industry

For the November lockdown, retailers were asked to shut their doors and workers were furloughed once again. 

A survey by Compare the Market found that 35% of people were concerned about paying bills throughout a second lockdown. 33% say that they would struggle to look after their families (Compare the Market).

When it comes to our mental wellbeing, the shorter days and continued measures means that this second phase is going to be tougher mentally.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, says that a second lockdown could be “the greatest test of our mental health this year”.

Christmas for the high-street

Whilst the industry is able to stay open throughout all tiers, predictions are still set to see christmas high street spending fall. 

Springboard, the business intelligence specialist, predicts that footfall over the six weeks from Sunday November 22nd to Sunday December 26th will be down by 70% on high streets, compared with this time last year.

Deloitte predicts that holiday retail sales are still forecast to rise by around 1 – 1.5%, compared with normal spending, but this will not be anyway near the usual Christmas boost the sector needs. 

What can be done?

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom. As an employer, you have the power to stop financial uncertainty becoming a lasting issue and have a real positive impact on the financial lives of your people.

Earned Wage Access

As we’ve seen throughout this outbreak, increased liquidity is vital to helping us survive. That doesn’t stop when it comes to our wages. 

Earned wage access or earned salary access schemes provide employees with access to their wages as they’re earned. 

Earned wage access provides effective liquidity to staff, meaning that they can cover unexpected expenses, manage money better and build towards a more secure financial future. 

This increased liquidity has already helped Wagestream users throughout the lockdown. 

86% of users have said that Wagestream has made them feel less stressed throughout the COVID period

67% said Wagestream makes them feel more in control 

46% have avoided using a payday loan throughout the COVID period 

If you want to take action now, and stop the financial pressures of 2020 going into the new year, provide your staff with earned wage access today.