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Retail Manager Career Guide

If you’re someone who is seeking responsibility and loves taking charge and leading a team, then look no further! A career as a retail manager may be just the one for you!

Retail managers are responsible for leading a team of retail staff and ensuring that they are motivated to increase profits and minimize costs, all whilst meeting the needs of customers. To become a retail manager, you will need 1 to 5 years experience in the industry. Some retail management positions are available to those with only a high school diploma. However, many positions require a bachelors degree in a related field. In general those with bachelors degrees will have the best job prospects.

 

As a manager we’re encouraged to be ourselves. We’re not micro managed, and there is trust to deliver our goals. We put our own stamp on our store and it’s like running our own business. I love developing people, picking out their strengths and allowing them to work on things that they’re passionate about.

Kiran Bains

Retail Manager Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Retail Manager Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Retail Manager field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33996 Retail Associate Female 41 $9,000 woodstock, AL 01/01/2010
33983 Owner Female 23 $12,000 Lapeer, NY 01/01/2010
33973 Deli Service Leader Female 25 $29,000 Bangor, NY 01/01/2010
33937 Manager Female 34 $25,000 cambridge, MD 01/01/2010
33889 Store Associate Female 18 None Set rock hill, NY 01/01/2010

Overview

What a retail manager actually does

The retail industry is a rapidly growing industry, full of incredibly rewarding career opportunities where you have the opportunity to work directly with other people. Retail managers are in charge of entire departments or stores, and they work hard to ensure everything runs smoothly. Their main goal is to increase profits and minimize costs, while ensuring the needs of customers are met. They achieve this through proper training, organizing promotions, maintaining awareness of market-specific trends, and providing excellent customer service. The typical duties and responsibilities of a retail manager include:

  • Recruiting and training new staff
  • Supervising and appraising current staff
  • Managing budgets
  • Maintaining all financial records
  • Dealing with customer queries and complaints
  • Evaluating how their staff are performing
  • Developing effective strategies to meeting goal
  • Managing stock levels and making key decisions about stock control
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation
  • Analysing and interpreting trends to facilitate planning
  • Analysing sales figures and forecasting future sales
  • Preparing promotional materials and displays
  • Setting/meeting sales targets, including motivating staff to do so. This is done to maximise profitability
  • Liaising with head office

Why they are needed

Retail managers play a crucial role in the supply chain. They are incredibly important to any business, as they understand how to maximize profitability. They are responsible for overseeing whole departments and/or stores and ensuring that all team members are looked after and motivated correctly. In essence, retail managers have a huge responsibility and play a crucial role in any retail company. Without their dedication, skill and commitment, retail stores would not be able to make the most amount of profit possible.

Pros and cons of a career as a retail manager

Pros:

  • There is a high sense of job satisfaction, as retail managers save businesses a great deal of money by correctly motivating employees and reviewing financial figures
  • You will have a great deal of responsibility and control over your decisions
  • It is a very important role, as the retail industry cannot operate cost effectively without retail managers
  • It is a flexible and diverse role, as there are many different types of retail manager jobs (e.g., in clothing, food, beverages)
  • There are jobs available globally

Cons:

  • Like lots of jobs, there are some tedious and mundane tasks. For instance, retail manager will certainly have their share of paperwork and data entry to complete
  • As retail managers are responsible for overseeing retail employees, they may often face staffing challenges and conflicts
  • Retail managers can often work long hours
  • It can be a stressful job as retail managers have to manage lots of people and meet the demands and need of the business

Employability

Job market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically specify the job outlook for retail managers. However, for sales managers as a whole, employment is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Online shopping is expected to slow the demand for retail managers, as more sales can be completed with less sales workers involved. However, there is expected to be a rise in employment of retail managers because retail stores will attempt to compete with online stores. In an attempt to do this, retail stores are expected to increase their emphasis on customer service, and retail managers will be needed to direct and navigate this.

Career paths

To become a retail manager, you will typically need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business management, marketing or finance. Some positions may only require a high school diploma and suitable work experiences, but in general those with bachelors degrees will have the best job prospects.

As well as a degree and/or a high school diploma, most retail managers will need 1 to 5 years work experience. This experience should be in the retail industry (e.g., as a retail sales worker, purchasing agents or sales representative). In larger organization, sales workers can progress relatively quickly and are likely to get promoted to retail manager faster than in a smaller retail company.

Example Job Titles for Retail Manager

Below is a list of common job titles in the Retail Manager field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for sales managers in the United States was $126,640. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,810 per annum and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000. Specifically, retail managers earned a median annual salary of $86,180.

Autonomy and Flexibility

Retail managers are responsible for customer service, staffing and stock decisions. Therefore, retails managers are likely to have high autonomy. Retail managers are likely to have set working hours, and it is therefore unlikely that they will have flexibility over the hours they work. They are likely, however, to have flexibility over how they arrange their day and who they delegate tasks to.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a sales manager (which will include retail managers), based on average annual salary and the number of jobs available, are:

  1. New York, where the average annual salary is $145,146
  2. New Jersey, where the average annual salary is $130,266
  3. Pennsylvania, where the average annual salary is $122,340
  4. Virginia, where the average annual salary is $126,966
  5. Michigan, where the average annual salary is $119,685

Note: it is likely the retail managers earn less than this ‘average annual salary’ figure, as managers in the retail trade are the lowest paid ‘sales managers’.

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Alaska and Hawaii.

Work environment

16% of all sales managers in the United States were retail managers. Overall, retail managers have a lot of responsibility and it can be a very stressful role. They will typically work in an office (either at the store or in a separate building). However, they may also have to travel to nationally, regionally and locally to attend meetings, to check up on stores and/or to go to dealers’ and distributors offices.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Retail Manager careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Retail Manager career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Retail Manager.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

It is likely that successful retail managers will be an ESTJ personality type. ENTJ’s, or otherwise known as ‘the executive’ are decisive, confident and firm. ENTJ’s have a preference for working in a logical and methodical way, which is will suited to a retail manager position as they have to track numbers, stock and budgets. ESTJ’s work with a huge focus on productivity and are incredibly eager to take charge and ensure that things done correctly. All of these qualities are suited to a retail manager, who is in charge of a team and must be focused on increasing the companies productivity.

Accomplishment and mastery

Most retail managers must first achieve a bachelor’s degree and then progress to the retail management positions through hard work, dedication and graft. Therefore, when you finally secure a retail management role, you will feel a high sense of accomplishment and skill mastery. Furthermore, throughout your career you will (hopefully) continually motivate your team to meet sales targets and provide excellent customer service. This will provide a high sense of accomplishment.

Meaning and contribution

Retail managers play a very important role in the supply chain. They work to ensure that retail staff are correctly trained and motivated. They ensure that customers receive the best service and that business can make the most profit. Although their work will not directly save any lives, the meaning and contribution to the economy, customers and employees is relatively high.

Life fit

Most retail managers will work full time in offices. However, they may often find themselves working overtime and long hours, as well as travelling (locally, nationally or internationally). Therefore, it can sometimes provide a difficult life fit.

Who will thrive in this career?

You will thrive as a retail manager if you are confident with leading teams (either large or small) and delegating tasks. Retail managers must be able to stand in front of lots of people and correctly motivated and train them with confidence. If you are incredibly organized, as well as decisive and confident, then you will thrive as a content manager.

You will need to be productivity and sales focused, but you must also have customer service at the forefront of your mind. You should be tolerable of others, polite, calm and understanding, as this will allow you to provide the best customer service. Finally, an excellent eye for numbers will also allow you to thrive as a retail manager, as you will need to develop and adhere to budgets.

Who will struggle in this career?

Those who do cannot confidently make decisions may struggle, as retail managers are responsible for making all stock and staffing decisions. They must be confident and convinced that they have made the right choice, the first time round. If you are not authoritative or confident when leading a team, then you may struggle as a retail manager. This is because the main focus of their role is to correctly motivate teams to ensure they are working the most productively they can. Finally, those who are not willing to put in the hard work in a lower role for 1 to 5 years will struggle to get promoted to a retail management position.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as adequate experience in the field, retail managers will need skills and talents such as:

  • Verbal communication skills, as this will allow retail managers to communicate clearly with staff, colleagues and customers.
  • Written communication skills. for email correspondence and keeping files up to date
  • Numerical skills, as retail managers need to manage budgets and stock
  • Leadership skills, are retail managers oversee teams (these teams may be very large or very small)
  • Customer service skills, as retail managers will need the interpersonal skills to interact, listen and respond to customers
  • Analytical skills, as retail managers need to evaluate how their staff are performing and develop strategies for meeting goals

Education

Some retail management positions may only require a high school diploma and suitable work experiences. However, many positions require a bachelors degree in a related field (e.g., business management, marketing or finance). In general those with bachelors degrees will have the best job prospects.

Retail managers will then need 1 to 5 years work experience. This experience should be in the retail industry (e.g., as a retail sales worker, purchasing agents or sales representative).

Certifications

There are no specific certification requirements to become a retail manager.

How to Become

Summary

A career as a retail manager is fast-paced, exciting and high pressured, that is centered around productivity and meeting targets. Retail managers are responsible for leading a team of retail staff and ensuring that they increase profits and minimize costs, whilst meeting the needs of customers.

Immediate action

If becoming a retail manager sounds like the career for you, then we recommend deciding what relevant degree most appeals to you. We then recommend seeking out some relevant work experience in the retail industry. If you are younger, this includes saturday jobs as a store assistant. If you are a bit older/post degree level, then it is worth seeking full time work in retail or sales.

Education and learning

Some retail management positions may only require a high school diploma and suitable work experiences. However, many positions require a bachelors degree in a related field (e.g., business management, marketing or finance). In general those with bachelors degrees will have the best job prospects.

Skill development

Retail managers learn and develop all their skills through their experience in the industry. They may also continue to get additional training throughout their career, which will continue their skill development.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Retail Manager careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33996 Retail Associate Female 41 $9,000 woodstock, AL 01/01/2010
33983 Owner Female 23 $12,000 Lapeer, NY 01/01/2010
33973 Deli Service Leader Female 25 $29,000 Bangor, NY 01/01/2010
33937 Manager Female 34 $25,000 cambridge, MD 01/01/2010
33889 Store Associate Female 18 None Set rock hill, NY 01/01/2010

Resources