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Secrets of the Sectors: Retail

As an essential part of the UK economy, the retail sector was responsible for 319,000 retail businesses in 2017. This sector includes any company that sells goods to the public.

Contrary to popular belief, this sector doesn’t just comprise of sales advisers, supervisors and managers, as there are many back-of-house roles, too. Work can be found within buying, customer services, visual merchandising, and warehouse work, among other jobs.

Additionally, the retail sector isn’t just clothing retail; you can opt to work in home, technology, food and more.

The UK’s biggest retailers are supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisions. However, graduates can look for work in clothing companies, (such as River Island, Next and Debenhams) online shopping businesses (including Amazon, eBay and Missguided), or other retail stores (such as Boots, Matalan and Argos).

Points to Consider

  • Work may not always be on the shop floor; this depends on what role you desire.
  • The opportunity for overseas travel may arise; although again, this depends on your role.
  • You may be working shift work – retail workers are often required to work weekends and unsociable hours. Christmas periods and summer sale periods are often incredibly busy for retail workers.
  • Retail often offers part-time work – although this is likely to be for in-store positions.
  • You will likely be required to meet targets and deadlines. Hitting these targets can prove to be very satisfying and rewarding.
  • Head office roles can expect benefits including pension packages and company cars. Most roles in this sector also get the benefit of company discounts.

How can I get into this sector?

University is not always necessary for this sector. Apprenticeships are a great way of getting into the field. Whilst not as well paid as regular positions, apprenticeships are a great way of gaining experiencing and acquiring key skills at the same time. Apprenticeships range from assistant buyers to travel consultants and more. Programmes can be found with companies such as Aldi, Waitrose and Superdrug. Many retail companies prefer to promote internally, rather than employing brand new staff for higher roles. This means that working your way up a retail business is worth considering.

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