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Careers in the Retail Industry


What is retail?

Careers in the retail industryThe sale, lease or rental of a wide range of technical and non-technical goods and services directly to consumers. This could range from selling goods in a store to renting cars to corporate customers.

Is retail a growing industry?

Yes! The chances of finding work as a retail salesperson or sales clerk is excellent. These occupations are expected to grow in British Columbia by 13.1 percent between 2000 and 2010 (Industry Canada, Industry employment by occupation, 2000 and projected 2010).

What kinds of positions are available in the retail industry?

Retailing offers a great variety of opportunities for ambitious and hardworking employees. A retail career often begins with a sales associate position. Dedication and commitment will open up your career path options to positions that include assistant manager, manager, merchandiser, buyer, district manager, human resources, distribution and inventory control, public relations and ecommerce related positions.

What skills do I need to begin a retail career?

Most of the skills required to succeed in a retail career are the same as those required in any industry. It is generally agreed that a good retail employee possesses the following qualities:

  • friendly
  • professional
  • outgoing
  • courteous
  • reliable
  • great communication skills

If you bring these qualities to a retail environment, you can learn additional skills like problem solving and decision making. While on the job, you can learn the technical skills to operate point of sale systems or cash registers. In fact, you’ll find that retailers place a higher value on enthusiasm and a good work ethic than on technical skills.

How much will I make?

Salaries and benefits vary depending on the retail position you have. While you may start out earning minimum wage, many retailers pay more than minimum wage in order to attract and keep good staff.

The chart below outlines the average hourly wage for full and part time retail positions in BC:

Job Title

Hourly Wages


Asst. Manager12.1011.2011.00
Sales Associates10.609.8010.00
Stock Clerk10.609.709.15
Office Personal14.1012.7012.00
Other Positions13.1010.7011.07

Source: Retail BC Compensation Report 2003

In addition to your hourly wages, many retail employers offer competitive benefits packages that include medical and dental plans, discounts on merchandise purchases and perqs or bonuses. Some retail sales positions may be partially commission based too, increasing the opportunity to earn more based on your sales performance.

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