Many people pick up retail holiday work primarily to take advantage of the associate discount. But some retailers seem to use employee discounts as a year-round recruitment and retainment tool.
In the apparel space, many discount benefits are tweaked to also work as a clearance tool.
J. Crew reportedly offers its employees 30 percent to 75 percent off as well as special access to special sales. The discount depends on whether the items are full-price, on sale, or on a list of slow-selling or overstock items. Regardless, employees get half off any five items each month.
The "great" to "best ever" discount was prominent among the "pros" of working at the chain in nearly all of J. Crew's employee reviews on the employee review website, Glassdoor.
Other apparel retailers known for generous employee discounts are American Apparel (50 percent off across the store), Abercrombie & Fitch (40 percent off for full time, 30 percent for part time), and Gap (30 percent to 50 percent off). Many department stores offer associates a 20 to 30 percent discount, according to a review of such discounts on Buzzfeed.
In many cases, the discounts extend to spouse/domestic partners and sometimes to family & friends.
In the electronics space, Best Buy allows employees to purchase items at five percent above wholesale cost. RadioShack offers a 30 percent discount.
Apple offers employees a $500 discount off new Mac computers and $250 off iPads. The offer can only be used once every three years. They also get a 25 percent off discount a major purchase once a year, as well as ongoing discounts on software and accessories.
In the grocery channel, Whole Foods stands out with its 20 percent off discount card for employees. In its optional and controversial program, the employee discount can lift to as high as 30 percent based on their BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and whether or not they smoke.
Many other grocers offer a 10 percent discount, including Walmart and Target. Home Depot appears to be one of the few major chains offering no employee discount.
Should employee discounts be emphasized more or less by retailers as a means to recruit and retain workers?