We surveyed some 360 retail workers, and this is what we found.

Retail workers account for 3% of the workforce in Singapore. That’s 107,931 workers in the retail industry, out of 3,597,700 employed persons in Singapore. Half of the 361 surveyed retail workers have reported a monthly income of less than $2,300 a month. 

Retail in Singapore can be split into a few different categories, accounting for a whopping 27,637 establishments in total (Reported in 2019); 

  1. General Merchandise
  2. Transport Equipment
  3. Personal Goods
  4. Household Equipment
  5. Others

The 361 surveyed retail workers were also asked to rank their top positive and negative associations that come with retail jobs. 

A few of the advantages that were associated with a retail job; Widely available jobs in the industry (43%), Opportunities to learn valuable skills (40%), Industry in general is an interest to them (39%), Flexible working hours (38%).

More than half retail workers surveyed associated their roles with working long hours (57%). A huge group of those surveyed also indicated shift work (48%), abuse from customers (43%), and low wages (43%), as the downsides and negatives of working in a retail job.

When asked about what they think will attract more Singaporeans to work in retail, a significant number of respondents said that higher wages is a huge factor in drawing more Singaporeans into the industry. These respondents accounted for 74% of those surveyed.

On 23rd February this year, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced that Singapore can expect a progressive wage model for the retail sector. 

“The progressive wage model is a policy designed to raise the salaries of low-wage workers by upgrading their skills and increasing their productivity. The scheme started in 2015. If included, the retail sector would be the sixth under the progressive wage model. 

It will cover workers such as cashiers and salespeople in the likes of supermarkets, convenience stores and fashion retail shops, said Mr Zaqy during a press briefing after speaking to workers from a retail store at Jewel Changi Airport. He spearheads the tripartite workgroup on lower-wage workers launched last October.”

However, many respondents did not know what PWM was. 

Those who were familiar with PWM however, felt that retail workers would benefit from the scheme (62%), should it be extended to their industry.

Thankfully, retail workers can rest assured that leaders like Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling are working hard on the task at hand. 

LMP Yeo Wan Ling shared via a Facebook post after one of her visits to a Scanteak store:

The retail sector is one of the many sectors that have shown us that — as the world evolves, the way we work and the schemes and policies that uplift our lives need to evolve with the times as well. 

We’re excited to see what’s to come. How about you?

Cover image via