(Reuters) -Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc said on Tuesday it would raise the minimum wage of all its staff to $15 an hour from October, as the drugstore chain joins several U.S. firms in trying to retain and lure more people back to work.
Walgreens said the wage increase would take place in phases and is expected to be fully implemented by November next year. Earlier this month, rival CVS Health said it would raise minimum hourly wages to $15 effective July next year.
A nationwide labor shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred retailers to raise wages this year, with many worried that they will not have enough workers in stores and warehouses during the holiday shopping season.
“Investing in and rewarding our team members is not only the right thing to do, it’s highly important to retaining and attracting a talented workforce,” Chief Executive Officer Roz Brewer said in a statement.
Walgreens’ starting wage for hourly team members is at least $10 per hour, with about half of the total 190,000 workers currently earning at least $15 an hour, a company spokesperson told Reuters.
Walgreens, CVS and other drug retailers that plan to offer booster COVID-19 vaccines are also likely to see more traffic between November and January, putting further pressure on them to retain workers and meet demand.
U.S. retailers and restaurant companies, including Walmart and Chipotle Mexican Grill, have also raised hourly wages for employees. nL4N2MX2N2]
Walgreens said it plans to invest about $450 million over the next three years to support the wage increase, investing one-third of the amount in fiscal 2022.
(Reporting by Amruta Khandekar, additional reporting by Richa Naidu in Chicago; Editing by Rashmi Aich)