Note: The following statistics should not be attributed to the U.S. Department of Labor, but rather their respective footnoted sources listed at the bottom of the page.
In the exposure-oriented industry of retail, success stems from customer satisfaction and loyalty, quality products, competitive pricing and excellent customer service. In today's fiercely competitive marketplace, shoppers displeased with a business's quality of service can simply take their business elsewhere. Thus, retail workers who abuse alcohol and other drugs threaten not only the general security of themselves, their coworkers and their patrons, but also their company's profitability. By making America's shops alcohol and drug free, industry employers increase not only the security and well being of the nation's consumers, but also the profits of their individual enterprises.
A Federal government survey revealed workplace substance abuse is a significant problem in the retail industry. Among full-time retail employees between the ages of 18 and 49:
- 10.8 percent report that they have used illicit drugs in the past month.
- About 22 percent report that they have used illicit drugs in the last year.
- 8.8 percent report heavy alcohol use.1
Rates of substance abuse among workers employed in several different areas of retail are as follows:2
Current Illicit Drug Use (%)
Past Year Illicit Drug Use (%)
Current Heavy Alcohol Use (%)
Apparel and Shoe Stores
Auto Supply Stores and Gas Stations
Eating and Drinking Places
Furniture and Appliance Stores
Other Retail Stores
The good news is that more and more retail industry employers, ranging from large multinational corporations to small locally owned shops, are implementing drug-free workplace programs to ensure productive workforces and safe workplaces — company features that ultimately result in increased profitability and success.
1 US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (1996). Drug Use among U.S. Workers: Prevalence and Trends by Occupation and Industry Categories. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services.