Retail wages rise by 10%

The pay packets offered to retail workers jumped almost 10 per cent last year, according to a major jobs website, in another sign of improving fortune for the sector.

Data from seek.co.nz reveals which industries had the best salary growth in 2013, comparing the average pay offered in job ads on the website in January and December last year.

Salaries advertised for "retail and consumer products" jobs were the third-fastest-moving in 2013, up 9.2 per cent from January to an average of $51,860 in December.

New Zealand Retailers Association northern regional manager Russell Sinclair said the industry was a competitive one that was trying to attract people who would make retail a career choice.

The sector was slowly recovering from the economic downturn in 2008, and this was likely to continue through 2014, he said.

Figures released this week by Paymark, which processes about 75 per cent of all electronic card transactions, showed spending through its network was up 7.5 per cent last month from December 2012.

"For the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis we're seeing a significant increase in spending which should bring optimism for most Kiwi retailers, and hopefully we see this momentum continue into 2014," Paymark head of sales and marketing Paul Whiston said on Wednesday.

Big-box retailer the Warehouse last year introduced higher wages for staff with more than three years' experience and the right skills. It announced in May that it would lift pay for these workers to between $18.50 and $20 an hour.

While retail had good pay growth, design and architecture jobs had the most positive movement and in December offered an average salary of $75,195, up 11.7 per cent from last January.

Astrid Andersen, general manager of Architectural Designers New Zealand, said a "booming Auckland housing market and the surge in construction in Canterbury" were creating strong demand for "well-qualified, professional practitioners".

"We are aware of [our] members undertaking six-monthly salary reviews to retain staff and we are also aware that employers are providing other incentives such as more flexible Retail wages rise 10% working hours to keep good staff," Andersen said.

The pay offered for construction sector jobs had the next best growth after architecture, up 10.2 per cent to an average of $92,565 in December - helped by the Canterbury rebuild. The industry with the highest average pay in December 2013 was mining, resources and energy at $101,622, up 2.4 per cent from January.

However, average salaries offered in resources strongholds Taranaki and the West Coast were down 13 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

Despite the fall, Taranaki was still the second-highest-paying region, with an average salary of $75,349.

It was beaten only by Wellington, where jobs offered in December paid an average of $81,259 a year.

Auckland came close behind Taranaki, with average salaries growing 3 per cent in 2013 to $75,170.

The regions rather than the major cities saw the highest pay growth, with average salaries offered in Gisborne up 10 per cent to $75,000. Marlborough also recorded good salary growth with the average pay packet rising 8 per cent in 2013 to $65,197.

The average salary offered on Seek in December was $74,002, up 3 per cent from January.

"With many economists predicting that the economy will grow at its fastest pace since 2007 this year, we expect 2014 to be a strong year for the job market and salary growth," said Seek general manager Janet Faulding.

- Hamish Fletcher of the NZ Herald

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