Which retail jobs pay the most right now?

Retail pay has shot up across the UK as shops compete for talent. So which high street store offers the best benefits and remuneration for employees?

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Employee pay in the retail sector has been rising at record levels over the past 12 months. Big-name brands like Marks & Spencer and John Lewis have joined the goldrush, announcing “record investment” in staff wages to compete for talent.

In part, the trend is a matter of law. In April, new minimum wage rates – including a National Living Wage of £11.44 per hour – came into effect, creating a big payroll bill for shops.

But in a retail landscape marked by brand administrations and financial uncertainty, hiked salaries are also an encouraging sign that retailers see investing in people as their best move to revive the high street and kickstart sales.

Our supermarket pay tracker is already monitoring the wage increases for grocery retail workers. Below, you’ll find a list of seven major high street brands that have introduced higher wages (and revamped employee benefits) for retail staff in 2024, in descending order.


  • Hourly wage outside London: £12.21 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £13.55 per hour

B&Q (1)

B&Q was one of the earliest retailers to hop on the pay rise trend this year. In April, it increased hourly rates for in-store workers to £12.21, giving approximately 16,500 employees an extra 90p per hour in their pay packet.

Excitingly for younger employees, the rise will apply to all workers aged over 18 and those on an apprenticeship wage. That means trainees and teenage staff will earn around £450 more per month at B&Q on a 40 hour workweek than they would on the minimum wage.

CEO of B&Q, Graham Bell said the rise would make pay at the DIY and home improvement company “the highest of any major UK retailer.” 

“We want to strengthen the competitiveness of our pay position in the market so that we continue to attract and retain the colleagues we need to serve our customers and help them improve their homes,” Bell added.

What other perks do I get?

Working at B&Q comes with attractive financial perks, including a 20% in-store discount, a generous employee pension scheme with employer contributions of up to 14%, and shopping discounts at various retailers and entertainment brands.


  • Hourly wage outside London: £12.15 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £13.15 per hour


Japanese retailer Uniqlo announced it would raise the hourly wage rate for its UK workforce by 7% last month, upping pay for entry-level “store assistant” roles to at minimum of £12.15 per hour.

Uniqlo has amped up recruitment efforts in recent months. The company’s operator, Fast Retailing, recently revealed targets for 80% of its managers to be non-Japanese by 2030 as it eyes rapid international expansion. That includes 10 new stores in Europe.

Speaking to Retail Week, Uniqlo’s chief operating officer Alessandro Dudech said: “For Uniqlo, our employees are our most valuable assets.

“By investing in a salary increase and a series of enhanced employee benefits, we hope to ensure our staff feel valued and motivated to really contribute to the company’s success.”

What other perks do I get?

As well as raising salaries, Uniqlo has also sent its employees home with a goodie bag of benefits including enhanced maternity pay and paternity pay for parents, an increased holiday entitlement of 34 days, and a yearly £300 gift card for in-store shopping.

Marks and Spencer

  • Hourly wage outside London: £12.00 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £13.05 per hour

This is not just any pay rise. M&S announced a major £89m investment in staff wages at the beginning of last month, bringing its retail pay in line with the Real Living Wage.

Since April, 40,000 customer assistants have had their wage increased to £12.00 per hour, representing a 10.1% increase on last year. Meanwhile, support team managers have seen their pay packet surge to £13.05 per hour (and £14.20 per hour in London).

The package also includes a generous extension to parental leave benefits, including six weeks’ paternity leave at full pay (previously two weeks) and 26 weeks’ maternity and adoption leave to 26 weeks – also at full pay.

Stuart Machin, Chief Executive, said: “Our vision is to be the most trusted retailer – and that starts with being the most trusted employer. That’s why [we’re] making our biggest ever investment in retail pay to recognise our colleagues for the vital role they play each day.”

What other perks do I get?

M&S’ employee benefits package is one of the most generous on the market. After the extension to parental leave, the retailer also offers a 20% employee discount, 12% pension contribution, and a host of healthcare perks including free eye tests at M&S opticians.

Holland & Barrett

  • Hourly wage outside London: £12.00 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £13.00 per hour

It’s one of the leading health food chains in the UK, and Holland & Barrett’s (H&B) employee pay is also looking a lot healthier in 2024. The company upped its hourly wages by 9% last month, ensuring floor staff now earn at least £12.00 per hour.

The new rates come off the back of a previous wage rise at the company in March 2023, and have benefited an estimated 5,000 staff members. 

However, H&B is hoping to increase that number in 2023. The brand is doubling down on hiring with bold plans for expansion after it reported significant growth last year.

In a press release, Holland & Barrett UK CEO Anthony Houghton, said: “We have exciting plans for the business in the year ahead, and look forward to continuing to provide health and wellness services to customers nationwide for another 150 years.”

What other perks do I get?

H&B has some of the healthiest workers on the market. All staff also benefit from a 25% staff discount, a £50 product allowance, and subsidised health and wellness qualifications.


  • Hourly wage outside London: £12.00 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £12.56 per hour

Primark will celebrate fifty years on UK high streets this year. Last month, it celebrated that success by unveiling a 9.1% wage rise for staff, adding to a planned £100m investment in its stores this year.

As a result of the pay boost, around 27,000 workers saw their hourly wage increase to £12.00 per hour. The new rate means team members will earn just under 4% more than the Living Wage, and adds an extra £1 per hour to pay packets.

Commenting on the rate rise, Primark UK retail director Kari Rodgers said: “Our colleagues do a brilliant job every day serving our customers and we want everyone to be fairly rewarded and recognised for their hard work.

“We hope this pay increase goes some way towards demonstrating our continued thanks for all that they do in our stores and for our customers.”

What other perks do I get?

Primark’s benefits are not as generous as other retailers. Still, it does offer a year-round 15% employee discount to staff and 27 days of holiday. The company also purports to have a generous pension scheme, although the exact employer contribution given is not publicised.

John Lewis

  • Hourly wage outside London: £11.55 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £12.89 per hour

John Lewis flagship store Oxford Street, London

At the start of this month, John Lewis Partnership (JLP) – which owns both John Lewis stores and Waitrose supermarkets – introduced a 10% pay increase for its 80,000 store workers, taking the average hourly wage to £11.55 for shop assistants (£12.89 in London).

JLP, which currently employs around 76,000 people, also made headlines this month when it published its full list of interview questions to help candidates who might feel daunted by the recruitment process. But the move was about more than goodwill. 

Following years of turmoil – and the impending resignation of chairman, Sharon White – the company has been vocal about its plans for a turnaround. The latest, £116m pay investment is a sign that it thinks a strong, motivated workforce will be key to reaching those ambitions.

What other perks do I get?

JLP employees will benefit from an in-store discount of 25%, free meals at work, and £60 worth of entertainment vouchers. You’ll also receive a share of the JLP profit bonus (last year, this was 3% of annual pay).

However, it’s worth noting that to fund this latest pay rise, JLP took cost-cutting measures that involved slashing redundancy packages for staff to one weeks’ pay per year of service.


  • Hourly wage outside London: £11.50 per hour
  • Hourly wage in London: £12.50 per hour

In March, technology giant Currys unveiled a “market-leading” boost to base pay and staff bonuses that has brought floor staff wages up to at least £11.50 per hour. 

Keen-eyed teams will have noticed this is only marginally above UK minimum wage rates. However, according to the company, high-performing sales staff will be able to increase pay up to £13.95 via commission pay; a potential 21% uplift on the Living Wage.

In order to help staff achieve this level of sales prowess, Currys says it will also invest in a programme of learning and development to supercharge colleagues’ earning potential.

Paula Coughlan, Chief People Officer at Currys plc, said: “Our passionate and dedicated colleagues are what make Currys special, and we’re delighted to be able to offer them this latest pay rise. We’re continuing to put our money where our mouth is and invest in our most important asset: our people.”

What other perks do I get?

Currys’ techie workforce will receive an 80% staff discount on mobile phones (20% on all other products). There is also life assurance at 4x your annual salary, the option to buy into the company’s employee share scheme, and restaurant and cinema discounts.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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