What is retail employee turnover rate: Top causes and strategies to tackle it

Kailash Ganesh
14 min read
What is retail employee turnover rate: Top causes and strategies to tackle it
What is retail employee turnover rate: Top causes and strategies to tackle it

Ah, the revolving door of retail - where employees sometimes come and go faster than a customer sprinting toward a "50% off" sign. If you've ever worked in retail, you know the drill.

One day, you're training someone on the register, and after on-the-job training, the next day, poof! They're off to pursue their dreams of becoming a professional dog walker. It's a retail riddle: why does turnover happen faster than you can say, "price check on aisle 9"?

But fear not, dear reader, for today, we're diving into the tempestuous waters of retail employee turnover. Think of it as a survival guide for both store managers and employees alike - a compass in the stormy sea of staff rotations.

And here's a little nugget of wisdom to kick things off: "The only thing faster than retail therapy is the turnover rate in a retail store." We've all felt the temptation to switch gears when the daily grind gets a bit too grind-y, right? So, in this blog, we will uncover the secrets behind the retail turnover rollercoaster and what you can do to improve your retention rate.

What is retail employee turnover?

Retail or average employee turnover rate is a key performance indicator (KPI) that quantifies the rate at which employees leave and are replaced within a retail organization during a specific period.

It is typically expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing the number of employees who leave the company (voluntarily or involuntarily) by the average number of total employees during the same period, then multiplying by 100.

Mathematically, the formula for retail employee turnover rate is:

Turnover Rate = ( Number of Employees Departed/Average Number of Employees) × 100

This metric is crucial for assessing workforce stability and the overall health of a retail business. A high turnover rate can indicate challenges such as dissatisfaction among employees, ineffective recruitment or onboarding processes, and potential issues in organizational culture.

Conversely, a low average turnover rate may suggest employee satisfaction, effective talent retention strategies, and a stable work environment. Retailers often use turnover data to refine human resource management practices, enhance employee engagement initiatives, and optimize recruitment processes for sustained business success.

Why is retail employee turnover on the rise in 2024?

Retail shop, where customers standing at the counter
Why is retail employee turnover on the rise in 2024?

The reasons behind the surge in retail employee turnover this year are like puzzle pieces falling into place, creating a picture that's both intricate and challenging. Here are a few reasons why it is on the rise.

Post-pandemic flux

The aftermath of the global pandemic has triggered a recalibration in the job market. As the economy rebounds, employees are exploring new opportunities that align with their evolving priorities. Retailers, already grappling with the effects of lockdowns and changing consumer behaviors, find themselves contending with a workforce in flux.

The pursuit of flexibility

The traditional 9-to-5 grind is getting a makeover, and retail employees are at the forefront of this shift. The desire for flexible work hours and remote options has become a powerful magnet for talent. Retailers struggling to adapt to these changing preferences are witnessing employees seeking roles that offer a better work-life balance.

Skills mismatch

With the rapid digitalization of retail, there's an increased demand for tech-savvy employees. The skills required for modern retail jobs, including proficiency in e-commerce platforms and data analytics, are evolving. Employees seeking career growth are more likely to jump ship if they perceive a lack of opportunities for skill development in their current roles.

Wage pressures

The perennial issue of wages is once again in the spotlight. In an era where the cost of living is rising, many retail workers and employees are evaluating their compensation packages critically. Businesses struggling to meet these expectations are witnessing a spike in turnover as employees seek better-paying alternatives.

Employee well-being concerns

The events of the past few years have heightened awareness around mental health and well-being. Retail, known for its high-stress environment, is seeing employees prioritize workplaces and industries that invest in their mental and physical health. Businesses neglecting these considerations may find themselves dealing with an exodus of talent.

Technology adoption challenges

While the digitalization of retail presents opportunities, it also poses challenges for employees who may struggle to adapt to new technologies. The pace of technological change in the retail sector can leave some employees feeling overwhelmed or left behind, leading them to seek employment in industries where they feel more comfortable or adequately trained.

Lack of advancement opportunities

As the retail landscape evolves, some employees may feel stagnant in their roles, with limited opportunities for career advancement. This lack of upward mobility can lead to disengagement and ultimately prompt employees to seek opportunities elsewhere, where they perceive greater potential for growth and development.

Workplace culture disparities

The culture within a retail establishment can significantly impact employee satisfaction and retention. Instances of poor management, lack of inclusivity, or toxic work environments can drive employees to seek employment elsewhere, in search of a workplace culture that aligns with their values and promotes a positive work experience.

Work-life integration challenges

Balancing work commitments with personal responsibilities has become increasingly complex, especially as retail schedules may fluctuate based on consumer demand. Employees may find it difficult to achieve a harmonious integration of work and personal life, leading to feelings of burnout and dissatisfaction.

Why is there a need for retail employee turnover rate analysis?

Why is there a need for retail employee turnover rate analysis?
Why is there a need for retail employee turnover rate analysis?

Picture this: a retail store is a bustling ecosystem of employees, customers, and constant activity. In this dynamic environment, understanding and analyzing the retail employee turnover rate isn't just a data-driven exercise; it's a strategic imperative.

Here's why the need for retail employee turnover rate analysis is as crucial as finding that misplaced inventory:

  1. Cost implications: Turnover can be expensive. The process of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees incurs direct costs. Analyzing turnover helps businesses quantify these expenses and understand the financial impact on their bottom line. This insight is invaluable in crafting cost-effective retention strategies.
  2. Indicator of workforce satisfaction: A rising turnover rate often signals dissatisfaction within the workforce. By delving into turnover data, businesses can identify patterns and potential sources of discontent. This information becomes a compass, guiding efforts to improve employee satisfaction, engagement, and overall workplace culture.
  3. Talent pipeline planning: High turnover rates for temporary workers can disrupt the continuity of operations. Retailers depend on a skilled and knowledgeable workforce to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Turnover analysis helps in strategic workforce planning, ensuring that there's a pipeline of talent ready to fill critical roles, minimizing disruptions.
  4. Enhancing recruitment strategies: If employees are consistently leaving for similar reasons, it's a red flag for recruitment strategies. Businesses can fine-tune their hiring processes by addressing specific pain points that contribute to the average turnover rate. This could involve reevaluating job descriptions, adjusting interview techniques, or enhancing the onboarding experience.
  5. Adapting to market trends: The retail landscape is ever-evolving. Analyzing turnover rates enables businesses to adapt to industry trends. For instance, if there's a surge in turnover due to a preference for remote work, retailers can explore flexible work arrangements to make companies stay competitive in attracting and retaining talent.

The negative impacts of high turnover in retail

Employer feeling down due to downward trend
The negative impacts of high turnover in retail

High turnover in the retail sector can have detrimental effects on businesses, employees, and customers alike. Here are the negative impacts of high turnover in retail:

  • Decreased productivity: Constantly hiring and training new employees requires time and resources, diverting attention away from core business activities. High turnover disrupts workflow and reduces overall productivity as new hires often take time to become fully proficient in their roles.
  • Increased costs: High turnover incurs significant costs associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training. Moreover, the loss of experienced employees means losing valuable knowledge and skills, which may require additional investment to replace. Continuously recruiting and training new staff members also leads to higher operational expenses, impacting profitability in the long run.
  • Negative impact on employee morale: High turnover rates can create a sense of instability and uncertainty among remaining staff members. Witnessing frequent departures of colleagues can demoralize employees, leading to decreased job satisfaction and increased disengagement.
  • Reduced customer satisfaction: Constant turnover can result in a lack of consistency in customer service delivery. New employees may need more skills and experience to effectively meet customer needs, resulting in subpar service experiences. Dissatisfied customers are less likely to return and may share their negative experiences with others, damaging the retail establishment's reputation.
  • Impact on brand reputation: High turnover rates can signal to both customers and prospective employees that the company may have underlying issues with its management or workplace culture. A reputation for high turnover can deter top talent from applying for positions within the organization. It may drive away loyal customers who prefer stability and reliability in their shopping experiences.

4 Retail employee turnover rate statistics you should know

Employees are calculating the recent statistics
Retail employee turnover rate statistics you should know
  1. On average, retail turnover hovers around 60%, indicating that more than half of the workforce may change within a year, reports McKinsey.
  2. On average, it's estimated that the cost of turnover in retail ranges from 1.5 to 2 times an employee's annual salary, says Built In.
  3. Teamstage reports that 31% of employees leave their jobs within the first six months.
  4. And Teamstage's data show that 80% of turnovers are due to bad hiring decisions.

19 Possible reasons that lead to employee turnover in the retail industry

Retail employees are carrying boxes
19 Possible reasons that lead to employee turnover in the retail industry

These factors collectively illustrate the multifaceted nature of employee turnover in the retail sector. Recognizing and addressing these challenges can significantly contribute to reducing employee turnover and fostering a more stable and satisfied workforce in the retail industry.

  1. Schedule inconsistency: Unpredictable or erratic work schedules that make it difficult for employees to plan their personal lives.
  2. Lack of employee involvement: Limited opportunities for employees to contribute ideas or participate in decision-making processes.
  3. Ineffective communication: Poor communication from management leads to misunderstandings and frustration.
  4. Job insecurity: Uncertainty about the stability of the job, especially in the face of technological advancements or economic downturns.
  5. Unrealistic expectations: Setting unrealistic sales targets or performance expectations that create undue pressure.
  6. Inadequate health and safety measures: Concerns about workplace safety, especially relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  7. Cultural misfit: Employees feeling disconnected from the company culture or values.
  8. Inadequate tools and technology: Outdated or inefficient tools and technology hinder job performance.
  9. Lack of diversity and inclusion: A workplace culture that doesn't embrace diversity, leading to feelings of exclusion.
  10. Absence of recognition programs: Lack of formalized programs recognizing employee achievements or milestones.
  11. Customer interactions: Negative or challenging customer interactions that impact employee morale.
  12. Unrealistic workload: Expecting employees to handle excessive workloads without adequate support.
  13. Temporary and seasonal nature: The temporary or seasonal nature of retail employment leads to short-term commitments from employees.
  14. Limited opportunities for career growth: A lack of clear pathways for advancement within the company can lead to employee frustration and disengagement, especially among those seeking long-term career prospects.
  15. Inadequate training and development: Insufficient training programs or opportunities for skill enhancement can leave employees feeling ill-equipped to perform their duties effectively, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.
  16. Lack of work-life balance initiatives: A failure to implement policies or initiatives that support employees in balancing their work commitments with personal responsibilities can contribute to burnout and turnover.
  17. Micromanagement: Overly controlling or intrusive management practices can erode employee autonomy and morale, leading to feelings of disempowerment and dissatisfaction.
  18. Low pay and benefits: Below-market wages and limited benefits packages can fail to attract and retain top talent, especially in a competitive job market where employees seek fair compensation and comprehensive benefits.
  19. Unclear expectations: Ambiguity surrounding job roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations can leave employees feeling uncertain and unmotivated, contributing to turnover as they seek roles with clearer expectations and objectives.

How to approach retail employee turnover rate calculation?

How to approach retail employee turnover rate calculation?
How to approach retail employee turnover rate calculation?

Calculating retail companies' employee turnover rate involves a straightforward yet crucial process. Here's a concise guide on how to approach it:

1. Define the time frame

Choose a specific time period for analysis, whether it's monthly, quarterly, or annually.

2. Gather data

  • Number of Employees at the Start: Count the total number of employees at the beginning of the chosen period.
  • Number of Departures: Sum the employees who left during that time, whether due to resignation, termination, or other reasons.

3. Calculate average employees

  • Add the number of employees at the start and end of the chosen period.
  • Divide the sum by 2 to get the average number of employees.

4. Compute turnover rate

  • Divide the number of departures by the average number of employees.
  • Multiply the result by 100 to express it as a percentage.


Turnover Rate = ( Number of Departures/Average Number of Employees) × 100

5. Interpret the rate

  • A higher turnover rate indicates more significant workforce churn.
  • A lower turnover rate suggests better employee retention.

6. Analyze patterns

Examine turnover patterns to identify reasons for employee departures, helping inform strategic decisions.

By consistently applying this method, retailers gain valuable insights into workforce dynamics, enabling informed decisions to improve retention strategies and overall business performance.

17 Top strategies to curb retail employee turnover

Employers are discussing the next strategy
10 Top strategies to curb retail employee turnover

Absolutely, reducing retail employee turnover requires a comprehensive approach. Here are ten effective strategies to curb the average retail turnover rate and foster a more stable and engaged workforce:

1. Competitive compensation

Ensure that your workers' compensation packages are competitive within the industry. Regularly review and adjust salaries to reflect market standards, providing financial motivation for employees to stay.

2. Comprehensive benefits

Offer a robust benefits package, including healthcare, retirement plans, and employee discounts. Quality benefits contribute to overall job satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Employee development programs

Implement training and development programs to help employees enhance their skills and advance in their careers. Clear paths for progression can boost morale and reduce turnover.

4. Flexible scheduling

Provide flexibility in work schedules to accommodate personal needs and promote a healthier work-life balance. This can be especially crucial in the retail industry with its variable demands.

5. Recognition and rewards

Establish formal recognition programs to acknowledge and reward employees for their contributions. Feeling appreciated boosts morale and creates a positive workplace culture.

6. Enhanced communication

Foster transparent and open communication channels. Regularly check in with employees, address concerns promptly, and involve them in decision-making processes when possible.

7. Workplace well-being initiatives

Prioritize employee well-being by implementing initiatives that promote physical and mental health. This can include wellness programs, stress management resources, and a supportive work environment.

8. Diversity and inclusion practices

Cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace. Employees are more likely to stay in environments where they feel valued and included, contributing to a positive organizational culture.

9. Employee engagement surveys

Conduct regular surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and engagement. Use the feedback to identify areas for improvement and tailor retention strategies accordingly.

10. Exit interviews

Conduct thorough exit interviews with departing employees to understand their reasons for leaving. Analyze the feedback to address systemic issues and continuously improve the work environment to retain employees.

11. Mentorship programs

Implement mentorship programs where experienced employees can provide guidance and support to newer hires. This fosters a sense of belonging and helps employees feel invested in their growth within the company.

12. Career advancement opportunities

Provide clear pathways for career advancement and professional development. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that offers opportunities for growth and upward mobility.

13. Workload management

Ensure that workloads are manageable and reasonable for employees. Overburdening them with excessive tasks can lead to burnout and increased turnover rates. Implement strategies to distribute workloads effectively and provide adequate support when needed.

14. Performance feedback and coaching

Offer regular performance feedback and coaching sessions to help employees improve their skills and performance. Constructive feedback coupled with supportive coaching can enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.

15. Team-building activities

Organize team-building activities and events to foster camaraderie and strengthen relationships among employees. A sense of belonging to a supportive team can increase job satisfaction and decrease retail turnover rates.

16. Career path clarity

Provide employees with clear information about potential career paths within the company. Knowing how they can progress and grow within the organization can increase motivation and loyalty.

17. Workload flexibility

Allow employees to have some control over their workload by offering options such as job sharing, compressed workweeks, or part-time schedules. Empowering employees to manage their workload can improve job satisfaction and retention rates.

Role of an employee survey tool in understanding employee sentiments in the retail sector

Retail employees standing together
Role of an employee survey tool in understanding employee sentiments in the retail sector

Employee survey tools serve as indispensable instruments in this pursuit. By offering a confidential and anonymous platform, these tools encourage honest feedback from retail employees, unveiling insights that might otherwise go unspoken.

These surveys become a strategic compass, identifying specific pain points within the workforce—be it related to compensation, scheduling, management practices, or workplace culture. Additionally, the tools gauge employee engagement levels, a critical metric in the battle against turnover.

Armed with the valuable data gleaned from surveys, retailers can implement targeted strategies to enhance job satisfaction, boost morale, and ultimately create an environment where employees feel heard, valued, and motivated to contribute to the success of the business.


From understanding the nuanced reasons behind turnover to implementing targeted solutions, the journey involves acknowledging the multifaceted challenges and opportunities within the workforce.

Through the lens of employee survey tools, retailers gain the power to decode sentiments, identify pain points, and measure engagement, equipping them to sculpt a workplace culture that fosters loyalty and satisfaction.

By embracing competitive compensation, robust benefits, and a commitment to employee development, retailers can transform the narrative of turnover into one of stability and career growth opportunities. The journey is ongoing, requiring a commitment to continuous improvement and a recognition that, in the retail world, a satisfied and engaged workforce is the linchpin to success.


1. How does high turnover impact retail businesses?

High turnover adversely affects retail businesses in several ways. Firstly, it disrupts operational efficiency and productivity by necessitating frequent recruitment and training efforts. This continuous cycle of hiring and onboarding incurs significant costs and detracts from core business activities. Moreover, high turnover undermines employee morale and customer satisfaction, leading to a negative impact on brand reputation and long-term profitability.

2. Are there seasonal factors that contribute to staff turnover in retail?

Seasonal factors significantly contribute to staff turnover in the retail sector. During peak seasons such as holidays or back-to-school periods, retailers experience a surge in consumer demand, necessitating increased staffings. This often leads to hiring temporary or seasonal employees who may seek other opportunities once the busy period ends. Consequently, the nature of retail seasons exacerbates turnover rates, impacting workforce stability.

3. How do turnover rates in retail compare to other industries?

Turnover rates in the retail workforce typically surpass those of many other sectors due to various factors such as seasonal fluctuations, lower wages, and limited advancement opportunities. Unlike industries with higher salaries and clearer career paths, retail often experiences higher turnover as employees may perceive better prospects elsewhere. Consequently, retail businesses must implement effective retention strategies to mitigate the impact of turnover on operations.

4. How can retail managers improve employee retention?

Retail managers can enhance retail employee retention by prioritizing several key strategies. Firstly, offering competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits packages can incentivize employees to stay. Providing opportunities for career development and advancement fosters loyalty and commitment among staff members. Additionally, creating a positive work environment through open communication, recognition programs, and support for work-life balance can significantly improve retention rates.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.