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Like many industries, the retail sector is undergoing a lot of change, but it continues to provide exciting career opportunities. There are many flexible working opportunities available for women in all kinds of part-time, full-time and temporary roles
Almost three million people are employed in the UK’s retail industry – over 10% of the UK workforce – and it’s a key employer of women, with around 58% female staff. Around half all retail employees work part time.
It’s an industry undergoing big changes, with stores closing and online shopping growing, but many well established retailers continue to thrive. Retail sales are now valued at £321 billion per year and are predicted to continue growing. The biggest retailers are the top four supermarkets.
The retail sector’s main challenges are the rising costs of running stores and the growing demand for e-commerce. Internet sales now account for around 20% of retail. Because online-only businesses are able to sell at cheaper prices, they put competitive pressure on store-based retailers.
There is now a race to adopt digital technology to make sure that customers can buy via their preferred channel. Technology is also part of a drive for cost savings across the whole retail operation.
Nationwide | Pay in Range £9.90 - £11.68. This is negotiable dependent on relevant skills and experience.
You'll be the friendly face of our business - the helpful driver who delivers the unique blend of Waitrose quality and outstanding service
Nationwide | Pay in Range £8.87-£10.47 depending on location and experience
We are looking for someone who keeps up to date on food and drink trends, knows our products, takes pride in whatever they do
Purfleet, Essex | £Competitive
The preparation of meeting agendas. Taking notes and preparing minutes
Jersey | £18000 - £19000 per annum
Creating a customer service led culture which is always striving to improve performance
There are a variety of jobs within the retail sector. Many of them won’t require a degree, particularly at the more junior levels. Those with a degree, however, may find they can rise up the ranks more quickly.
It isn’t always necessary to have a retail management or retail merchandising degree because there are many areas of retail where other qualifications will apply. These include finance, HR, fashion, marketing and operations.
Typical job roles within the sector might include (taken from Prospects, the Graduate website):
Working in the retail industry can be hard due to its commercial nature, which can put pressure on people to perform and hit targets. The hours can be long, particularly as stores are increasingly open for business around the clock.
Work-life balance can be a significant issue in an industry which often has long or antisocial working hours. Yet many outfits are working hard to plug the gap and, for many, the flexibility is a reason to join the sector.
The fact that the industry is set up for after-hours working and shift patterns is a way for working mums to continue with their careers whilst balancing financial and family commitments.
At the higher levels, an assistant manager receives on average £20k per year, rising to £25k for a store manager. An area manager can earn between £60k and £80k.
Salaries will vary depending on the part of the country you’re working in and the sales volumes in your particular store and sector. The general size of the store is also related to the salaries of those working there.
The electrical sector has been a strong performer in recent years, and in telecoms – e.g. phone shops – there are fairly considerable sales bonuses available. In some cases these can reach up to 50% of a salary package.
Buyers and merchandising specialists can command high salaries. A trading director could earn anywhere between £120,000 and £200,000 in London whilst, at the other end of the scale, a buyer’s administrative assistant might earn between £15,000 and £20,000. A design director could earn between £50,000 and £120,000.
In addition to good career progression opportunities, a huge benefit of working in retail is the chance to have employee discounts on store merchandise.
To get a good sense of the kinds of retail job opportunities available in your area, take a look at our Retail Job Search.