Myths About Retailing

Sales Clerk is the Entry Level Job in Retailing

Most students and their parents think that people working in retailing have jobs as sales clerks and cashiers. They hold this view because, as customers in retail stores, they typically only interact with sales associates, and not their managers. But, as we have discussed in this chapter, retail firms are large, sophisticated corporations that employ managers with a wide variety of knowledge, skills, and abilities. College and University graduates are typically given entry-level positions as management trainees in buying or store organization, not as sales associates.

Management trainees in retailing are given more responsibility more quickly than in other industries. Buyers are responsible for choosing, promoting, pricing, distributing, and selling millions of dollars worth of merchandise each season. The department manager, which is generally the first position after a training program, is often responsible for merchandising one or more departments as well as for managing 10 or more full- and part-time sales associates.

College Degrees Are Not Needed to Succeed in Retailing

While some employees are promoted based on their retail experience, a college degree is needed for most retail management positions ranging from store manager to CEO. Over 150 colleges and universities offer programs of study and degrees or majors in retailing.

Retail Jobs Are Low Paying

Starting salaries for management trainees with a college degree range from $35,000 to $45,000 a year for entry level store and merchandise management and $60,000 for students with specialized Masters degrees. The compensation of top management ranks within the highest in industry. For example, store managers with only a few years of experience can earn up to $100,000 or more, depending on performance bonuses. A senior buyer for a department store earns from $50,000 to $90,000 or more. A department store manager can earn from $50,000 to $150,000; a discount store manager makes from $70,000 to $100,000 or more; and a specialty store manager earns from $35,000 to $60,000 or more.

Retailing Is a Low Growth Industry with Little Opportunity for Advancement

While the growth rate of retails parallels the growth rate of the overall economy, many opportunities for rapid advancement exist simply because of the rapid growth of many chains and sheer size of the retail industry. Thirty years ago Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Starbucks, and Best Buy were small companies.