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Retail Business Job Sector Factsheet
The retail job sector covers a huge range of employment. Retail is mainly about
selling new and used goods in a wide range of retail outlets such as stores and on
the rapidly expanding internet market. The retail business also includes its supply
chains – the sourcing, supplying, purchasing, packaging, marketing and delivery of
the right goods to sell to customers.
To make it easier to find the information you need for your career planning we have
split this wide sector into the main job areas of:
Store Operations on pages 2 – 3.
Buying on page 4.
Customer Contact Centres on page 5.
Marketing on pages 6 – 7.
Logistics on pages 8 – 9.
For each job area you’ll be able to find out more about types of jobs and how much
people earn.
Retail businesses also employ people in business, administration, finance and
information technology jobs to support large organisations. You can find out more
about jobs in these sectors in the business, administration and finance and the
information technology factsheets.
Plus at the end of this document, on pages 10 to 17, we’ve put together information
about the whole retail business sector including:
o The ways into retail.
o The job market.
o Future trends.
o What’s happening locally
o Website addresses of specialist sites that you can explore if you’d like
to find out more.
Store Operations
Most retail jobs are in store operations. Jobs include management roles such as
supervisor and retail manager and work on the shop floor such as a sales assistant
and checkout operator.
Examples of these jobs include:
Retail managers are in overall charge of a retail outlet. This could be a department
store, local or national chain store, supermarket or an independent shop selling
goods such as clothes, books, wine, gifts or electrical items. In large stores, there
may be more than one manager, each responsible for a specific department, and
there will also usually be other managerial staff at a lower supervisory level working
on the shop floor.
Retail assistants deal with all aspects of retailing such as keeping displays looking
good, restocking shelves, greeting customers, dealing with queries and sales,
operating tills and barcode readers and keeping the retail outlet clean and tidy. Their
work varies, depending on the type and size of the store.
Checkout operators help customers, who have chosen their shopping, to pack and
pay for their goods. They do a range of other duties including weighing and pricing
some items such as vegetables, removing security tags, answering customers
queries, checking age of customer when selling age-restricted products such as
knives and reporting any problems or difficulties to their supervisors. They may also
need to spend time away from their till, filling shelves, checking stock and working on
a customer service desk.
Personal shoppers are employed to give customers advice on the clothes and
accessories that suit them. To do this they will carry out a consultation to find out as
much as possible what the customer is looking for, what colours suit their skin and
hair colouring and what styles suit their body shape. They would then take the
customer around the store giving advice and selecting items for them to try. They
would keep records for future visits and sales calls and also organise sales and
delivery if needed.
This section only includes a sample of jobs in store operations - other jobs
include; stock replenishment assistant/stock control, department manager, floor
manager, supervisors, and specialist sales assistants in areas such as bookselling,
butcher, floristry, greengrocery and jewellery sales.
Want to know more?
The information in this jobs section is a summary of what’s involved in each of the
highlighted jobs and only a few jobs are listed to give a snapshot of this sector.
You can also use the Next Step website to find out
about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many
Retail Managers may earn from around £16,000 - £36,000 a year. Senior
managers in charge of very large stores in some areas may earn up to
Retail Assistants may earn around £12,000 a year and with experience may
be able to earn between £13,000 and £16,000.
Checkout operators may earn around £12,000 a year and with experience
may be able to earn £16,000 or more.
Personal Shoppers may earn around £13,000 a year and with experience
may be able to earn between £18,000 and £25,000.
Buying for retail businesses is about purchasing the best merchandise to sell making
sure that the price, quality and availability are right. Buyers can maximise profits if
they understand what will sell, and get it at the right price and in the best condition.
Jobs in buying include:
Retail buyers plan, select and buy the goods that are sold in retail businesses.
Many buyers have a specialist area that they buy - for example buying the wines for
a large chain of supermarket or clothes for a fashion chain. They need to be able to
work out what the current trends and buying patterns are and search out new
products and suppliers.
Retail merchandisers negotiate prices with suppliers as they need to help to
maximise profit. They liaise with retail buyers, who select the product ranges, to plan
the range of goods to be sold. Merchandisers decide on the exact quantity of goods
to order and determine specific stock levels for each retail outlet - often using
computer modelling software to look at previous sales and predict future
performance. They also work closely with marketing personnel to promote special
offers and sales identifying products for promotion – often linked to supplier
Smaller retailers may combine buying and merchandising roles in a general
retail management position.
Want to know more?
The information in this jobs section is a summary of what’s involved in each of the
jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.
You can also use the Next Step website to find out
about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many
Retail buyers and merchandisers may earn from around £20,000 - £30,000
a year and up to £55,000 with experience. Senior retail buyers and
merchandisers may earn up to £70,000 a year.
Customer Contact Centres
Retail businesses, as well as banks and many other organisations, run contact
centres. In retail they are usually part of a customer services department. Contact
centres respond to and solve any problems raised by their customers whilst
shopping from their websites or in their stores. They may replace products and/or
refund or compensate the customer where a product or service did not meet the
customer’s expectation.
Contact centre (or call centre) operators are employed to keep in regular contact
with their customers by telephone, email, SMS messaging, online instant messaging
and post. Contact centre operators may accept orders for home delivery, deal with
payment for goods, and enquires or complaints about deliveries. They may help to
solve technical problems with computer usage - for example customer problems with
online services, or with products they have bought from the retailer such as an
electrical or household appliance.
Operators working in marketing or market research also work from call centres
but in this case they initiate the calls. They contact a list of potential customers and
cold-call them to sell products or obtain information.
Want to know more?
The information in this jobs section is a summary of what’s involved in each of the
jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.
You can also use the Next Step website to find out
about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many
Contact centre (or call centre) operators may earn from around £13,000 £17,000 a year and around £20,000 with experience.
Marketing is about influencing the behaviour of specific groups of people or
organisations - for example by encouraging them to buy a new product or service. To
do this they need to find out more about their target audience by commissioning
market research and identify the message that they need to get across to their
customers. Jobs in marketing can either be with:
a large organisation such as a supermarket or department store chain
marketing just for that business.
a marketing agency - that would operate by winning commissions from a wide
range of companies to market their product.
Jobs include:
Brand managers (or product managers) need to understand their customers, keep
an eye on competitors, carry out research and create the right identity and brand
loyalty for new products. Developing the right identity, and developing customer
brand loyalty, includes getting the name and packaging of the product or range right
and overseeing the advertising campaign.
Marketing executives help to promote and sell fast-moving consumer goods and
products to the public, usually via retailer. Fast moving consumer goods are usually
high-volume, low-value items such as food, drink, confectionery and toiletries.
Marketing executives would work alongside the brand or product manager to raise
awareness of the product through advertising and in-store promotions. They would
be expected to come up with fresh marketing ideas to promote their products and
also write creative briefs for advertising agencies.
Sales managers are employed to sell all sorts of products and services. They work
in a sales team - organising a team of sales representatives and devising marketing
strategies for the team to use to maximise sales and customer loyalty. They may
work for a national retailer, or distributor, and their customers may be individuals,
businesses, factories or retail outlets. They may be responsible for sales in a specific
geographical area, nationally or even worldwide.
This section only includes a sample of jobs in marketing - other jobs include;
sales representatives, PR assistants and market researchers.
Want to know more?
The information in this jobs section is a summary of what’s involved in each of the
jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.
You can also use the Next Step website to find out
about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many
Brand managers/product managers may earn from around £28,000 a year
and up to £45,000 with experience. A group brand manager can earn in
excess of £65,000.
Marketing executives, at graduate entry level, may earn around £22,500 a
year and up to £65,000 with experience. A marketing director can earn in
excess of £110,000.
Sales Managers may earn from around £19,000 - £30,000 a year and up to
£60,000 with experience. Senior sales managers may earn up to £100,000.
Logistics is about the safe and efficient movement of products throughout the UK
and abroad. A supply chain is set up to make sure that the goods are collected,
stored, distributed and delivered in the right condition at the right time. Supply chains
usually focus on specific areas such as clothing and footwear, electronics and
electrical and food and drink.
Jobs include:
Distribution managers plan and manage the control and movement of goods or
raw materials. They work with suppliers and warehouse managers to make sure that
the right goods are delivered on time to a range of customers including retailers and
Importers and exporters work for import/export agencies, freight-forwarding firms,
or companies that handle their own export and import of goods. Importers deal with
the procedures for bringing goods from other countries for sale in the UK, whilst
exporters handle the procedures for taking goods out of the UK for sale in other
countries. The main areas of work in import/export departments or agencies are
related to administration, management and sales.
Large goods vehicle drivers transport millions of tonnes of goods by road around
the UK, as well as to and from the Continent. As well as driving according to strict
safety and working time laws, drivers usually have to plan their schedule with road
transport managers, make sure that their lorry is safely and securely loaded and
unloaded, and delivery paperwork is completed. They may also have to refuel the
lorry during a long journey and clean out after a delivery or at the end of a shift.
Warehouse workers and managers make sure that their stock is stored in the right
condition and place in the warehouse and that the correct items are packed and
ready for collection when needed. Some goods need to be kept in closely monitored
environments, for example fresh or frozen food that needs to be stored at specific
temperatures to keep them fresh and safe. Workers and managers need to make
sure that these conditions are maintained. Warehouse managers are responsible for
the efficient running of the warehouse and are in charge of the workforce. Both
workers and managers are likely to use computerised stock control systems.
This section only includes a sample of jobs in logistics - other jobs include;
transport planner, lift truck operative, freight forwarder and ship broker/air broker.
Want to know more?
The information in this jobs section is a summary of what’s involved in each of the
jobs and only a few jobs are highlighted to give a snapshot of this sector.
You can also use the Next Step website to find out
about 100s of jobs and careers, including the ones listed above and many, many
Distribution managers may earn around £19,000 a year and up to £30,000
with experience. Senior distribution managers may earn up to £60,000 a year.
Importers and exporters may earn from around £11,000 - £15,000 a year
and up to £35,000 with experience. Senior managers may earn up to £65,000
a year.
Large goods vehicle drivers may earn around £15,000 a year and up to
£30,000 with experience. Drivers of fuel, chemical or other specialist tankers
may earn around £36,000 a year.
Warehouse workers may earn around £12,000 a year and up to £20,000 with
experience. Warehouse managers may earn from £18,000 a year and up to
£45,000 with experience.
Ways in to retail business
Many jobs in the retail business do not set specific academic requirements although
many employers prefer applicants for supervisory or management posts to have at
least five GCSEs (A*-C), and A levels or equivalent qualifications. A number of jobs
in the industry - for example marketing are mainly graduate entry. Experience of
working with customers, especially in a retail environment, is also very important.
Those working in the retail business are increasingly well qualified with 30% having a
degree or postgraduate qualification. Only 2% have no qualifications at all.
Useful qualifications include:
Diploma in Retail Business or Business, Administration and Finance.
BTEC certificate or diploma in retail
NVQs in retail or logistics
Foundation degree in retail management or logistics.
Degree in retail management, marketing or logistics.
As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a foundation degree course are
one A level and three GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications; for a degree course
the minimum requirements are normally two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C), or
equivalent qualifications - for example an Advanced Diploma in Retail Business.
Apprenticeships are a good way of entering the retail business sector and it may be
possible to enter retail or logistics management through an Advanced
In addition:
Personal shoppers are usually expected to have worked in a fashion or beauty
environment. Retail assistants who have demonstrated the right attributes and skills
fill most vacancies.
Retail buyer vacancies are popular and many entrants have a degree or a BTEC
Higher National Certificate/Diploma (HNC/D). Relevant subjects include business
studies, retail and distribution. It may be possible to enter retail buying via an
Apprenticeship in retail, and undertake a buying or merchandising placement.
Employers of retail fashion buyers may ask for fashion qualifications. The London
College of Fashion runs a specialist two-year foundation degree in fashion buying
and merchandising. The Fashion Access Programme (Fashion Business and
Fashion Promotions Media) provides a one-year intensive study programme for
entrants without formal academic qualifications or those wanting to change career
direction. It can also prepare students for entry to the London College of Fashion's
foundation degree in fashion buying and merchandising. Entrants to the Access
programme need to show a broad interest in fashion, media, arts and current affairs.
Marketing jobs are very competitive and this means that many entrants to
marketing roles, even for junior positions, have an HND, foundation degree or
degree. Useful subjects include marketing, sales and business. Applicants with
relevant work experience may be at an advantage.
Logistics jobs involving driving and operating machinery may have age restrictions.
An Apprenticeship in traffic office or wholesaling, distribution, warehousing and
storage could also lead to opportunities in logistics management.
Import/export jobs increasingly require qualifications. Many companies ask for at
least four GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths. Some companies may prefer
A levels or equivalent qualifications. Larger companies often ask for a Higher
National Diploma (HND), foundation degree or degree. Although any degree,
foundation degree or HND subject is acceptable, courses that cover international
trade, logistics, business studies or marketing may be an advantage. Qualifications
or experience in using foreign languages are always in demand. The Diploma in
retail business or business, administration and finance could be a useful starting
For warehouse jobs a fork lift licence - for those aged 16 or over - can be helpful in
getting warehouse work. Training courses lasting around three to five days are
offered by independent training providers. In some warehouses, goods are colour
coded, so colour vision tests may be given at interview. Apprenticeships in
warehousing and storage leading to NVQ Level 2, and Advanced Apprenticeships
leading to NVQ Level 3, may be available.
For more information about the courses on offer locally for 14-19 year olds including the new Diplomas in retail business - why not check out your local area
Barnsley –
For courses in higher education check out the UCAS website -
For Apprenticeships check out vacancies on these sites:
Connexions Barnsley site
National Apprenticeship site
The Job Market
The retail industry employs 2,476,556 people in England - that’s 1 in 10 of the
working population - and almost 3 million throughout the UK.
Retail is the UK’s largest private sector employer.
Within retail there are an estimated 290,000 UK retail businesses selling a wide
range of products, employing from one person to thousands of people who do
lots of different types of jobs.
The current UK retail market is dominated by a comparatively small number of
large retailers who have 500+ employees. These large retailers employ 65% of all
people working in retail and have 69% of all the annual turnover of retail
The largest numbers of businesses – making up 83% of retailers - employ less
than 10 people. These small retail outlets employ 29% of the retail workforce and
take 19% of annual turnover of retail businesses.
Retail accounts for £265 billion in sales and one-third of all consumer spending.
With more households using the internet, online retail is increasing at a rapid
A third of all those who work in the retail sector are below the age of 25 (the
whole economy average is 25%).
More than half – 59% of retail employees are female.
Almost half - 49% - of those working in retail are part-time (the whole economy
average is 25%)
The current recessionary climate is affecting most areas of retail business
however; certain sections of retail businesses, online retailers, major
supermarkets and value/discount stores are showing signs of growth.
Retail employers report that applicants often have the following skills shortages customer handling skills, technical, practical or job-specific skills and oral
communication skills.
Logistics is the UK’s fifth biggest industry employing more than 2 million people
across 65,000 organisations.
Logistics employers range from small companies to international logistics
organisations and transport providers operating fleets of vehicles.
There is currently a shortage of skilled workers in some areas. Jobs can be found
throughout the UK.
The distribution industry is one in which men predominate. Men account for
around 7 out of every 10 jobs.
Around 75 percent of employment in distribution is full-time. Part-time
employment and self-employment each currently account for around 1 in 8 jobs.
Retail buyers and merchandisers
Around 12,000 people are employed specifically as retail buyers in the UK.
Virtually all retailers and manufacturers employ someone to take responsibility
for buying. In smaller retail businesses, it may be combined with other sales
or marketing duties, or another retail management role.
There are more applicants than vacancies.
Many retail buying jobs are based in head offices, the majority of which are in
London and south-east England. However, opportunities do exist in other
parts of the UK such as the West Midlands.
Contact centre (or call centre) operators
In the UK, there are 5,040 contact centres, employing more than 800,000
people - a figure which is likely to increase to over one million by 2012.
There are jobs with large and small businesses. Contact centres are often
sited on business parks outside city and town centres.
Some companies base their contact centres abroad. There may be some
opportunities to work overseas, setting up contact centres and training local
Marketing and Sales
In England, around 750,000 people work in marketing, advertising, PR and
Employers range from large companies and organisations to smaller
businesses, and advertising and public relations agencies. Larger employers
tend to be based around major UK cities, especially London, and the south
Competition for marketing positions is high. Most enter marketing after gaining
related work experience.
Sales managers can be found in all job sectors not just the retail business.
Other major areas of employment include finance, manufacturing, wholesale
distribution and IT.
There is a demand for skilled sales representatives and there are
opportunities throughout the UK and overseas.
There are over 86,000 distribution and transport managers in the UK.
The UK is a major trading nation and, as the global market is expanding, there
are increasing opportunities for importers and exporters.
There are around 300,000 LGV drivers in the UK. The industry has been
affected by the recession and there are currently fewer vacancies for qualified
There are 338,000 warehouse workers and around 68,000 warehouse
Figures from Skill Smart Retail LMI report – November 2009.
Future Trends
The majority of people who work in sales occupations are employed as sales
assistants and check-out operators in retail outlets. Customer service
occupations represent a much smaller but rapidly growing group.
Customer service occupations are expected to grow rapidly at 23.1 per cent
for the period 2007-17.
Between 2007 and 2017, 214,000 new retail jobs are expected to be created
in the United Kingdom, while a further 1.2 million jobs will need to be filled as
a result of people leaving the industry because of retirement or people getting
other jobs. This means a total requirement of around 1.4 million jobs.
Many of these jobs, however, are likely to be part-time vacancies.
The growth of online retailing has increased the demand for applicants with
excellent IT skills for contact centre/customer service vacancies.
The division between wholesale distribution and retailing has become blurred
with the rise of internet retailing - as it has become much easier for producers
to sell directly to households, or retailers to control their own distribution
Household spending and retail sales are expected to recover as confidence
returns on the back of a recovery in the housing market and stronger growth
in real disposable income. This pick-up will underpin the recovery forecast for
the consumer service industries generally.
Self employment in retail is projected to continue the long-term decline with
the share falling to just 7 percent.
Growth in the retail business as a whole is projected to average just under 3
per cent per annum over the period 2007-2017.
Output growth in distribution is projected to average just under 3 per cent per
annum, and employment is expected to grow by around ¼ per cent per
annum over the decade to 2017.
Projection figures from ’Working Futures 2007 -2017’ Warwick Institute of
Employment Research - November 2008.
Figures also from Skill Smart Retail LMI report – November 2009.
What’s Happening Locally
The retail industry in Barnsley employs 6702 people (9.7% of total
employment). 2,406 male and 4,295 female. Of these 6,702 people working
in retail. 2,879 work full time and 3,823 work part time. These figures do not
include the retail motor trade.
 There are 901 retail outlets in Barnsley 89% of these employ between 1-10
people and 10% employ between 11- 49 people. Only 1% of the retail outlets
employ between 50 and 200 people.
Yorkshire and Humberside
The retail industry in the Yorkshire & Humberside region employs around
236,400 people, 10% of the total retail workforce in England.
Numbers employed have been decreasing. Between 2001-2006 they
decreased by 1.9%.
86% of retailers in the region employ 10 people or less.
56% of employees work part-time and 62% are female.
Sales assistants and customer service occupations are the largest group of
retail workers in the region (51% of total retail employment). Managers are the
second largest group (17% of the total).
Very few people are employed in call centres in Barnsley. There were 11,400
employed in the region in 2008, accounting for 0.5% of total employment. This
had decreased from 13,600 in 2007.
Future employment in the retail industry in the region is expected to show a
small growth up to 2017.
(Skillsmartretail: AACS LMI, Annual Business Inquiry 2007 & 2008, NOMIS, Working
Futures 2007-2017)
Find out more about Retail Business
You can use this site to find out about all the jobs in this sector in more detail.
A free national careers film library showing films of real people doing real jobs.
The Diploma in Retail Business and careers information.
The official government site about all the different diplomas.
This site has a link to all sector skills councils.
The Sector Skills Councils for Retail Business - Skillsmart Retail, Skills for Logistics
and the Institute of the Retail Motor industry.
Retail Therapy is a bi-annual magazine produced by Skillsmart Retail in-conjunction
with The Independent newspaper.
The Retail Trust is the principle charity working in the retail industry offering help and
guidance to people working in retail.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing.
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS).
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) (CILT(UK)),
Institute of Export.
Driving Standards Agency (DSA).
Road Haulage Association.
United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA).
Factsheet produced by Prospects, revised October 2010