Those working in retail need to have good communication skills – including being able to listen, attention to detail, first-rate product knowledge and excellent customer service skills. Retail involves selling goods and services to customers, either face-to-face or via online shops on the internet, making IT skills a requirement too.

There is a retail element within most of the industry sectors, so there is an enormous array of careers and jobs on offer within:

  • entertainment
  • fashion
  • food
  • general merchandise
  • health and beauty
  • home
  • sport and leisure
  • technology.

Are you an employer interested in taking on an apprentice? Help and support are available via the Government Employing an Apprentice webpage.

Are you an individual looking for an Apprenticeship? You can find all the latest vacancies by visiting the Find an Apprenticeship page.

The retail sector is the UK’s largest private sector employer with 2.9 million employees 66% of all retail employees work for the largest 75 retail companies. Retail’s gender profile is 58:42 women and men, almost a third of retail employees are under 25 years old. Half of retail employees work part-time. By 2017 it is expected that the UK will have 3.3 million people employed within the retail sector

In the UK, there are around 287,000 retail outlets, with more than 9% of all retail sales being internet-based. Technology has changed the way we shop, enabling us to access goods and services 24/7 – the advent of huge regional distribution centres means that shopping online is quick, easy and very efficient.

The employment opportunities within retail are vast – you could work within one of the following functions:

To learn more about the job roles on offer within retail and to look at the entry criteria, skills required and what you could earn, visit the National Careers Service Job Profiles section.

So where could you work? Retailers usually have a high street presence, and an online presence – many will have both. Examples of some of our high street retailers include:

  • Boots
  • B&Q
  • Carphone Warehouse
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Mothercare
  • River Island
  • Vision Express
  • Waterstones.

Online retailers, include:

  • Amazon
  • ASOS
  • BooHoo
  • eBay
  • Shop Direct.

You can enter the sector in a number of ways, including:

  • Full-time / part-time college courses / school leaver
  • Apprenticeships
  • Higher National Certificates (HNC)
  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)
  • Foundation Degree
  • Bachelors Degree

Many people work in the sector whilst they are studying, and there are lots of opportunities to study retail related subjects at a range of levels -  from entry level through to graduate management programmes – the retail sector needs people to fill thousands of jobs, from sales assistant, to store management, through to window dresser and customer services, and a whole host in between.

Many local training providers offer a wide range of training and qualifications to support you in gaining the job you want – everything from Sales Assistant to Store Manager, to Retail Buyer and Stock Control, through to Merchandiser and Sales Executive. Visit our members page where you can access more information on specific providers.