“The happier the co-worker, the happier the customer and the better the overall shopping experience,” said Ikea’s acting U.S. president, Rob Olson, in a statement. “We wanted to be less concerned about the competition and more concerned about offering our co-workers a better everyday life.”
While the additional money will ding IKEA’s coffers, the company maintains that it will continue to discount retail prices for customers. It hopes the lower prices will have shoppers spending more, and that the higher wages will result in more qualified applicants.
“Even though the margins might be lower, the bottom line ends up doing better,” Olson said.
The IKEA increase comes as a growing number of retail workers around the country have called for their employers to increase their wages or for the government to raise the minimum wage levels.
The federal minimum hourly wage sits at $7.25, though the White House has proposed upping that rate to $10.10/hour. Several states already have minimums that are higher than the federal requirement, and cities like Seattle and San Francisco are looking to dramatically increase base pay to $15/hour over the next few years.
In advance of possible legislative or regulatory changes to minimum wage, a handful of large companies have recently taken the initiative of raising their base pay.
Disney recently suggested raising its starting hourly rate for park employees from $8.03 to $10 over the next two years. Employees at Gap, Inc. stores are just now seeing the first stages of a promised wage hike that will take base pay first to $9/hour and then $10/hour.
Gap tells the L.A. Times that its stores have seen a surge in applications from job-seekers since it announced the pay hike earlier this year.
In February, Walmart said it was considering whether to support a federal minimum wage increase. The nation’s biggest retailer recognizes that a higher minimum wage would mean it has to pay more money to its workers, but it could also mean more money in the pockets of Walmart shoppers, who then have more cash to spend at Walmart.