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The UK retail industry generated £381 billion in sales in 2018 and is the largest private sector employee with almost three million employees in the UK. The industry covers a wide scope of areas, including shops, supermarkets department stores and internet retailers. As such, careers in retail can be varied, involving a variety of positions, locations and responsibilities. Keep reading to learn more about Retail jobs, including expected salaries and career development opportunities.
Jobs in retail generally involve a variety of daily tasks and will depend largely on the specific area you work in, such as fashion, food or entertainment. You could be involved in purchasing stock, ensuring good customer services or working in logistics, such as the supply chain. Most positions in retail are dynamic and will likely involve dealing with customers face to face. You may have to work some unsociable hours, such as early morning and weekends. Furthermore, the role can also be demanding, with you expected to stand on your feet for long periods of the day.
Whilst there are no retail industry qualification requirements, as with most positions, a university degree will always reflect well with potential employers, particularly if you are looking for a higher-level retail position or one requiring specific skill sets. An example of this is the usefulness of having a degree in art & design for a visual merchandising position. Most entry level positions require no qualifications, with employees placing more emphasis on certain personality characteristics and skill sets. These include:
- Excellent customer-service skills
- A natural friendly and helping personality
- Strong communications skills
- Determination and ability to multi-task
- A presentable and professional appearance
Career prospects in retail are good, with most positions offering opportunities to gain further experience and responsibilities. Furthermore, with the UK retail industry being so strong, long-term prospects are good, with companies often hiring throughout the year. In terms of salary, there can be large differences.
If starting out at the very bottom, you can expect to earn anything from £15,000 upwards. However, this will of course increase the more experience you gain. Many retail employers offer graduate management schemes, with salaries starting around £25,000 and rising to £50,000+ for high-level senior positions, depending on the employer and location.
With retail covering so many different sectors, working in this industry can be fun and interesting. Apart from the wide selection and large number of positions usually available, other benefits include the discounts you will be eligible for, with these ranging from 10% to 50%. Other benefits of working in retail include flexibility in terms of the hours you work, the opportunity to meet lots of different people and the fact that your success in this sector will largely depend on your skills and abilities rather than possessing specific higher-education qualifications.
One common complaint regarding working in retail is the lack of full-time positions. Many retail companies offer split shift work which can result in reduced overall hours, meaning less pay. These shifts can also result in unsociable working hours, including the need to work weekends. Many positions in retail are part-time, which can also be inappropriate for many people. Additional negative issues include dealing with unhappy customers on a daily basis, as well as having to be presentable and friendly at all times.