Two thirds of retail workers have had to borrow money just to pay their daily bills – and half are struggling to pay it back, new research reveals.
The UK’s largest retail union Usdaw surveyed 6,500 of its members, largely made up of supermarket workers, home-delivery drivers and people in food manufacturing. The study also found that one in four can no longer afford to use the heating at all.
“Having worked throughout (the pandemic), risking their health and too often facing abuse from customers; many key workers are still struggling in low-paid insecure employment and now face a growing cost of living crisis,” said Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, speaking at the Usdaw annual conference in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
“The energy price cap rise has pushed many household budgets to the limit. As food prices rise, household budgets are being stretched, many workers are now being driven into debt to pay everyday bills,” he continued.
“The government has so far not delivered anywhere near enough to help workers facing of this cost of living crisis… If they don’t take the action we are calling for, the government will have simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge faced by millions of working households across the country.”
The retail sector is the worst affected by the phenomenon dubbed the Great Resignation, which has people quit in the face of long hours, public abuse, little regard to health and safety, and low-pay. Wholesale and retail was the sector that saw the greatest loss of older workers due to “inactivity”in 2021.