Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, has said two-thirds of store employees will reach full-time work status by the end of the year. The retail giant said the move will provide workers with consistent week-to-week schedules and be a way for stores to recruit workers.
Drew Holler, senior vice president of Walmart’s U.S. People division, said the move comes as demand for a consistent retail workforce has never been greater after the health crisis last year.
“We believe full-time schedules complement the other ways we are preparing for the future of retail,” Holler said. “We’re uniquely positioned to offer a combination of stability and room for growth that few others can match. We are prioritizing consistent schedules, skills training and new pathways for growth, so all jobs at Walmart can lead to careers. We know offering more full-time opportunities along with skills, training and equipping associates with tools to make work easier will help us continue to attract and retain top talent.”
He said the retailer’s growing pickup and delivery business calls for more full-time job opportunities in stores as they increasingly do double duty as fulfillment centers and retail spaces.
The United Food & Commercial Workers Union, which advocates for retail workers, said the move has been a long time coming.
“No matter where essential workers work, they have earned and deserve a full-time job that provides the good pay, health care and protection they need to provide for their family,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “Whether it is Walmart or any other company, every CEO in the industry has a responsibility to do more to protect our essential workers in retail stores and supermarkets, who have been helping our families put food on the table and access the critical supplies we need during this pandemic.”
Bentonvile-based Walmart said in 2016, about 53% of its U.S. hourly store workforce held full-time positions. By the end of this year, Walmart estimates it will have approximately 100,000 more full-time positions than it had five years ago.
The announcement comes on the heels of wage increases for 425,000 employees who stock shelves and fulfill orders. The pay raises ranged between $13 and $19 an hour, lifting the average paid to store workers above $15 an hour. Walmart did say it will eliminate quarterly bonuses for these workers after the first quarter.
The move also comes as competitor Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sounded off about a new vision for employee success in a shareholder letter this week. Bezos said he and other retailers should expect that the employment landscape will change and they need be prepared to respond with their own strategies that meet not only financial operating needs but those of employees.
Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis at the National Retail Federation, said the industry has been moving toward full-time positions for the past decade. He estimates about 31% of retail and wholesale workers, excluding warehouse workers, were part-time in 2010, according to his analysis of government data. Mathews said the part-time work has been declining only to rise again amid the pandemic. He said in 2020 about 29% of retail jobs were part-time.