Store staff GettyImages-1141999796

Some workers across the food and retail industry are having to turn to food banks and loans this Christmas

British retail frontline workers are feeling “worse off” than their European peers in the lead-up to the Christmas season, a new survey has revealed.

As many as 56% of British workers said their wages barely covered their living expenses, found a study by workforce management provider Quinyx.

That compared with 39% of Germans, 31% of Nordics, and 29% of their Dutch contemporaries in a poll of over 3,000 shift and non-desk-based workers across the retail, fashion, wholesale, shipping, distribution, warehousing and logistics industries.

Nearly half of UK workers (46%) also said they worked more hours in 2023 compared with previous years just to cover the rising cost of everyday essentials.

% of workers getting into debt this Christmas

Around one third (31%) said they had received financial support from family and friends to pay the bills ahead of Christmas, while one in 10 said they had turned to food banks amid mounting financial pressures.

“Beyond the excitement and merriment of the holidays, many frontline workers – everyone from delivery drivers and waiting staff to warehouse operatives and retail assistants – are faced with increased workloads and insurmountable financial challenges,” said Quinyx chief HR officer Toma Pagojute.

“And as our study proves, the UK isn’t alone in that – the cost of living is proving a burden in Europe too.”

% of employees who worked more hours in 2023 vs previous years

% of employees that had to use food banks this year

Pagojute said the “best gift business leaders can give our dedicated workforce on the frontline this year” was to engage with them and provide support “when and where they need it the most”.

“This can be through flexible work schedules, improved communications and by ensuring their working conditions are the best they can be.”

Most supermarkets upped their wages this year to reflect rising inflation. However, about one third of retail employees to receive a pay rise “didn’t feel better off from it”, Quinyx’s data showed.

Additionally, the UK has struggled with some of the highest levels of inflation in European countries, maintained by stubbornly high food and drink prices.

Country-specific inflation rates (October 2023)

UKSwedenNorwayFinlandDenmarkThe NetherlandsGermany








Some relief came this month as food price inflation fell for the eighth month in a row, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), helping the UK headline rate to slow more rapidly than expected.

The consumer prices index rose by 3.9% in the year to November, compared with 4.6% in the prior month, the ONS reported –   marking the lowest level since September 2021.