Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has cut starting pay for new store employees who pick and pack online orders and stock shelves, raising questions of whether companies face a cooling labor market or are adjusting to a return to pre-pandemic shopping habits.
The retailer confirmed that starting wages were reduced in July for personal shoppers and stockers who now join the company. Those workers help prepare orders for curbside pickup or delivery to customers’ homes and replenish store shelves.
New Walmart employees who join the digital or stocking teams now make about a dollar-an-hour less than they would have if hired several months ago.
Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said no current employees in those roles had their pay cut. As part of the change in July, Walmart also tweaked pay bands for more experienced employees, leading to a wage raise for approximately 50,000 store employees, she said.
Walmart, as the biggest private employer in the U.S. with 1.6 million people, is a closely watched company for economists and industry leaders — including many who have scoured for signs of whether inflation of wages and of merchandise is cooling. It had hiked its minimum wage for store employees from $12 to $14 in January, as the labor market remained tight and its pay trailed behind rivals like Amazon and Target.
One company official declined to say if the company has seen it become easier to hire.
WMT shares closed Thursday at $73.20.