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42% of Retail Associates Are Considering Leaving the Workforce Entirely Citing Their Voices are Largely Ignored by Corporate, According to New Report From Zipline

Another 33% say retailers are not doing enough to bring back the excitement that customers have missed


Zipline, the operations platform that powers retail’s most complex work, today announced the release of its 2021 Labor of Love Report, a survey dedicated to understanding the perspectives of retail associates. The report comes at an important time as consumers and employees alike are holding retailers to new standards, and brands are strategizing how best to proceed with in-store experiences and company morale post-pandemic. 

Key data from the report shows: 

  • Almost half (43%) say they don’t feel consistently heard when making suggestions to retail headquarters about in-store changes and improvements 
  • 42% of associates are considering or have already decided they are planning to leave the retail workforce
  • 51% of sales associates think their retail brand is pioneering new ways of engaging customers in physical stores
  • Key initiatives don’t always flow down to stores. For example, when it comes to the 15% Pledge that many employers took in 2020, more than half (54%) were not aware if their employer supported it at all 
  • 33% don’t think retailers are doing enough to bring back the excitement and emotional connection that customers have missed

An Associates Love Language? Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service via Growth Training

After an intense year of shutdowns and restrictions, there are many ways retailers can express their appreciation, and associates want to see more investment and recognition. Only 24% of associates thought retailers were doing enough to retain talent and build an ambitious retail workforce and only 52% are satisfied with the investment stores are making in their professional development

When asked what retailers should do to invest in their frontline workers, 1 in 4 associates asked for upward mobility training to advance their careers and day-to-day training to do their current job better/more efficiently. In order for growth to happen within a retail organization, brands should invest in their sales associates with the same rigor and attention they do at the corporate/management level. 

“As someone working in the store and interacting with customers every day, it’s disheartening to feel like feedback is not reaching corporate,” said Kelly, a store associate at a major apparel retailer and survey participant. “Retailers should prioritize listening to their employees, as we provide ideas about how to improve the customer experience, especially amid such a transformational period for the retail industry.”

During a year of civil unrest and social campaigns, when it came to corporate initiatives supporting these causes being heard in the field, many retail associates reported being unaware if their brand was part of them. Surprisingly, 54% of respondents were not sure if their brand supported the 15% Pledge, which offers 15% of their shelf space to products made by Black-owned companies. 

This broken communication strategy is causing friction for employees, and the data speaks to retail’s need for better employee communication and alignment across the entire workforce about company goals and initiatives. Without it, the entire team lacks the information needed to understand the mission and their roles in driving change. 
“After a turbulent year for the industry, the data shows that retail associates want to feel heard by their employers and need insight into the initiatives brands are supporting,” said Melissa Wong, CEO of Zipline. “As retailers make in-store changes and improvements for their customers, they should also consider their employees and the best ways to streamline communication and ensure they feel supported and are receiving the training they desire.”

To view Zipline’s complete findings, click here.


Zipline surveyed 500 retail associates in the U.S. to better understand their feelings on the changing state of retail, workplace environments and how they connect with customers amid the pandemic. The survey was fielded from May 7 to May 10, 2021.  

About Zipline
Zipline is the leading communication and in-store execution platform for retailers. Built with the complexities of retail in mind, Zipline helps HQ streamline and coordinate communications with the field in a way that makes store teams happier and more productive. The company received a Net Promoter Score of 78, was recently named a Modern Retail Awards finalist for its use of technology in retail, is Great Place to Work-Certified for its employee engagement, culture, and healthy work-life balance, and received honorable mention in the Software category of Fast Company’s accredited annual list of World Changing Ideas for 2021.

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