Job and Career Opportunities in Retail

The retail sector is a diverse, fast moving and growing industry that employs around 11% of the UK’s workforce.

The main focus of the retail industry is the selling of goods and services to the general public. There are shops that focus on selling one product and others, like supermarkets that sell many different products and services. If you like dealing with people and are interested in fashion, electronic gadgets, books, DIY or any other type of consumer products then a career in retail could be right for you.

Of course jobs in the retail industry are not just restricted to sales or customer facing roles, you will also find roles such as HR/Training, Finance & Administration, Buying, Marketing, Logistics and IT as well as supervisory and managerial opportunities. Many larger stores have great graduate schemes.

What is the work like?

The role of sales assistant in the retail industry may involve the following activities:

  • Serving customers
  • Advising customers
  • Taking payments and handling cash, cards and cheques
  • Processing orders and deliveries of stock
  • Stacking shelves and making sure goods are displayed correctly

There are also a wide range of other roles available within the retail industry.

Part time retail jobs

Sixty percent of retail jobs are part time and the increased opening hours for most shops means there are shifts to suit everyone and that the retail industry can provide a great deal of flexibility. The increased opening hours will mean that you are often expected to work evenings and weekends. You may also often have to spend long periods of time on your feet and lifting goods.

What qualifications do I need?

For many roles in the retail industry, you do not need formal qualifications, although employers will expect good numeracy and literacy skills. It will also help if you are a ‘people person’ with good communication skills and any experience of handling cash or dealing with the public will be beneficial. You will also need to enjoy dealing with members of the public and be polite, reliable and trustworthy.

In terms of career progression, much of the training within the retail industry will be work based, although there are a range of BTEC and NVQ qualifications that you can study for. Employers will often help financially and with time off towards these courses.

Fashion Retail Jobs

Full time salaries normally range from £10,000 to £16,000 although managers can expect to earn between £16,000 to £25,000. The salaries of larger retailers and stores can often be much higher and include benefits such as staff discount and share schemes.