Amazon vs. Walmart vs. Target: In the Battle of Big Holiday Bonuses, Who Pays the Most?

When the coronavirus outbreak touched down in the United States, millions of Americans flocked to stores as they stockpiled household necessities and supplies like food, disinfectant and toilet paper. Big-box chains and e-commerce giants reaped the benefits of this pandemic-induced panic; over the past couple quarters, Amazon, Walmart and Target have reported stellar revenues and earnings, as well as record-high online sales.

Now, amid another wave of COVID-19 infections and with the holiday shopping season in full force, the retailers are sharing some of those profits with those on the front lines: their own store associates, warehouse workers and delivery drivers. Amazon, Walmart and Target have announced their own rounds of bonuses in a race to attract, retain and reward their essential employees. Here, FN answers the question: In the battle of holiday bonuses, which of the Big 3 wins?


Bonus: Full-time employees employed from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 qualify for a $300 bonus, while part-time workers are eligible for a $150 bonus.

Holiday investment: In this quarter, the Seattle-based corporation shared that it has invested more than $750 million in pay incentives for its front-line workforce. That brings its total spend on bonuses to more than $2.5 billion so far this year.

Minimum wage: The online behemoth’s minimum wage for all U.S.-based employees currently stands at $15 per hour — more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

What they’re saying: “I’ve been at Amazon for 22 holiday seasons, and this one is definitely unique, to say the least,” SVP of global operations Dave Clark wrote in a late November post on the company’s blog. “Our teams are doing amazing work serving customers’ essential needs, while also helping to bring some much-needed holiday cheer for socially distanced families around the world.”


Bonus: Part-time and temporary hourly employees will receive $150 on Dec. 24, while full-time hourly employees will take home $300.

Holiday investment: This latest pay incentive totaled more than $700 million — including another $319 million in quarterly bonuses that appeared in associates’ paychecks last Wednesday following a better-than-expected third-quarter performance. That would bring the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s bonuses for associates this year alone to upwards of $2.8 billion.

Minimum wage: Early this year, Walmart boosted the hourly pay for some team associates — including cashiers and shelf stockers — to $12 and team leaders to $18 as part of a test. Its starting hourly pay remains at $11.

What they’re saying: “As we come to a close on this historic year, I’m filled with gratitude for how our associates have led through one of the most trying periods for our company and country,” U.S. president and CEO John Furner said in a Thursday statement. “Our associates have stepped up to serve our customers, communities and each other when it was truly needed most, and we’re pleased to recognize their efforts.”


Bonus: More than 350,000 workers — including some hourly employees in stores, call centers and distribution centers, plus seasonal hires — have received a $200 bonus as a holiday season incentive.

Holiday investment: According to the Minneapolis-based chain, the bonuses amounted to a $70 million investment. It marked the company’s fourth pay incentive in 2020, like Walmart, and puts Target’s investment in workforce bonuses at nearly $1 billion this year.

Minimum wage: In July, the retailer made good on a previously announced plan to raise its minimum wage from $13 to $15 by year’s end.

What they’re saying: “In a year like no other, I’m proud of what this team has accomplished and grateful for the care and connection they’ve provided our guests and communities,” chief HR officer Melissa Kremer said in a mid-October blog post. “Target’s success this year is a direct result of our team members turning our purpose into action and meeting our guests’ changing needs day after day.”

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