Retail Careers Demystified


The retail sector offers lucrative job opportunities for graduates, but many of them overlook this dynamic career option.

“Some graduates tend to associate the fashion retail industry with shop work or standing behind a cashier,” says Abdullah Mayet of Keystone Apparel Company, home of Timberland, Hackett London and Church’s Shoes.


“At the other end, the fashion industry is confused with the entertainment industry. Some believe that in order to work in fashion, you have to be a super model,” he adds.

These myths surrounding the retail industry can be crippling to the growth of the sector, as less and less people show interest in pursuing it as a permanent career but merely as a stepping stone to finance a career in a different field. There are endless possibilities, including buying, designing, merchandising, marketing, logistics, distribution, finance, human resources and brand management, amongst others.


Notably, the National Study of the Changing Workforce highlighted that the retail workforce is made up of two distinct groups, 39% of employees come from Generation Y and are under 28 years old and 7% are over 62 years old. The average age in the retail sector is 37 years old, while it is 41 years old in other industries. 


The stats indicate that not many people beyond the age of 30 remain in the sector, which is a current challenge facing retail. The study further indicates that a big driving force behind the unfaithfulness of the youth to the industry is a lack of mentorship and motivation. Retail employees who motivate their staff and help them grow are more likely to sustain the talent. 


The sector can offer large scale job satisfaction, as it is ever changing. As the trends change so does the nature of the job. The increasing growth of social networking and online activities also means that there is an increase in the job scope. Online specialists are required on a full-time basis to ensure that the products, specials and other offers are continuously marketed.


The retail sector is conducive to those who enjoy the fast paced, ever-changing environment. It is largely dependent on the state of the economy and this means that retailers also have the responsibility of responding to the changes in consumer behaviour. Other factors that affect consumer trends include mobile technology, rapid urbanization, change of lifestyle and the fact that consumers are becoming increasingly impatient in a world where everything is available almost immediately.  These factors are an indirect pull factor as it creates an exciting, fulfilling job environment with opportunities for large-scale job satisfaction. 


In recent times, issues such as sustainability, organic products and practices, recycling, considering human and animal rights and an increasing focus on “greener” living have been a huge influence on the retail sector. This is not only a positive in creating jobs and a greener way of doing things but it is also another pull factor that can bring job-seekers to the retail sphere. “When considering employment, people tend to choose companies that are considerate about giving back,” Mayet says, “and companies like Timberland pride itself on this ethos in its product offering and daily running of business.”


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