It surveyed 70 retailers, including 10 big grocers, on pay and employment conditions, and found a quarter anticipated higher demand for store staff this year. A quarter said there would be lower demand for buyers and head office staff.
Some organisations said they were raising base salaries in store, while others were abolishing or reducing the length of induction periods to attract staff.
Hay Group consultant Chris Shennan said pay increases were the obvious reaction to a tough recruitment market.
He added: "More companies are now focused on developing their "employer brand". But in many cases though this tended to be superficial, he added, "with promises made at the recruitment stage failing to materialise".