In the 2013 book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elithebeth Dunn and Michael Norton, the authors argue that the buying experiences rather than the stuff you buy will be what makes you happy. What if there are no experiences to buy - what if all we have is within the four walls of our home? Well, if you look at the numbers top retailers are putting out we are still spending on stuff - lots and lots of stuff. Stuff to fix up our homes from Lowes and Home Depot. Electronics from Amazon and Best Buy so we can do Zoom meetings and do remote schooling. Shirts from Target and Walmart to wear in these online meetings (pants not so much). And groceries, because our favorite local restaurant tends to be our kitchen now, and oh yeah: we’re all bakers now, too. This surge in consumer spending has led to record profits for retail giants.
It has also made Americans see retail workers in a way they maybe hadn't before, they are now seen as they have always been - essential. We can no longer take them for granted. The big question is whether their employers feel the same.
How are they being treated by the people that are making millions in most cases billions for? A new report from the Brookings Institute looks at just that.
It shows that even with an increased stock price averaging 33% employee pay has increased 10% on average. And of the companies that had offered hazard pay most ended that program more than 4 months ago. But some companies have been trying to do right by their people.
The report looked at 13 companies, with the most generous being:
Other companies were less inclined to open their rather full purses toward the people who are the ones putting themselves out there, risking themselves and their families well-being.
These companies are Lowes, Costco, Albertsons, Kroger, Ahold Delhaize (the parent company of stop and shop and other grocery chains) and Walgreens. These companies all averaging over a billion dollars in profits (all up over last year) gave only small increases in wages, the highest being Lowes at $1.50 per hour while their average hourly wage is $12 per hour. The lowest being Walgreens with a $0.21 raise. Some of these companies had offered some one time bonuses of around $300 to $500 dollars and some hazard pay. It should be noted the Ahold Delhaize ended hazard pay while spending $860 million dollars on stock buybacks while profiting $1.6 billion.
The lowest rated companies in this report were Amazon who profited $17.4 billion while only offering 2 and half months of hazard pay of $2 dollars an hour and a $500 bonus and could have given their workers $8 dollars more an hour and still made more money than last year.
CVS Health offered a one time bonus of $150-$500 for pharmacists and managers while giving nothing to store-side workers. Dollar General's profits of $1.4 billion didn't translate to a windfall for its “team” either with a $0.23 raise and some bonuses - they're up 77% over 2 quarters.
And then there's Walmart who showed a staggering $15.6 billion dollar in profits. That’s an extra almost $5 billion over last year, and 4 times what they paid in hazard bonus.
Home Depot has been vocal with their gratitude towards employees:
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