- What do retail managers do?
- Retail manager career path
- Retail manager salaries
- Qualifications & training
- Retail manager skills
- Pros and cons of being a retail manager
- Work-life balance of a retail manager
- Typical employers hiring retail managers
- Related jobs to retail manager
- More information
Are you interested in retail manager jobs? Explore the consumer, FMCG and retail jobs available right now.
What does a retail manager do?
Retail managers are responsible for making sure a store runs smoothly, from having satisfied and productive staff to making profits through sales, to overseeing deliveries of stock into the store. In this role, here are the responsibilities that you have on a daily basis:
- Making rotas and schedules for your colleagues
- Inputting you colleagues’ working hours into a database to calculate their weekly or monthly pay
- Dealing with problems that your colleagues face like disputes in the workplace, discrepancies with pay and late arrival times
- Speaking to customers about store policies and dealing with customers who request to speak to a more senior employee
- Overseeing deliveries and chasing up issues with deliveries like delays or missing stock
- Implementing strategies that come from internal marketing teams if you work for a chain
- Doing store-wide counts of the stock to check for theft or other causes of discrepancy between the level of stock you expect to have and what’s actually there
- Training new members of staff on store processes, how to use equipment like tills and health and safety policies
Retail manager career path
The retail career path can see you work your way up within a company. If you enjoy the customer service element but not the sector, you could move into hospitality. If you like the management and analytical side but not the customer service, you could move into management consulting. Here is the career path that you could follow if you decide to work in retail:
Most people begin as a retail assistant, also known as a customer service advisor, as this is an entry-level position which requires very few existing skills and is accessible to most people. In this job, you greet and serve customers, making sure they found all the items they needed to. You restock shelves and make the store look neat. You help prepare the store for customers at the beginning of your shift and tidy up at the end. This is a highly social job requiring you to represent the company and treat customers in a friendly manner.
After gaining skills and experience, you progress to supervisor level. In this role, you have more responsibility. You may help with the store banking and count the stock levels across the store. You make sure the junior staff work hard and are completing all the tasks you set for them.
Once you have demonstrated that you can deal with junior staff well and are responsible, you progress to retail manager. Some stores have specific managers for different aspects of the workload, like a delivery manager. Other stores have more general management who are responsible for the daily working of the store. Retail managers delegate responsibilities to their staff members. They conduct the training courses for new colleagues, complete paperwork for the store and take on safety checks like fire drills.
With enough experience and expertise, you become a regional manager. This job is relevant to companies with many stores. You manage the stores in your region, making sure they are performing well with no loss of money or poor reviews. You conduct inspections to make sure the store adheres to health and safety regulations and that it looks tidy for the customers.
Retail manager salaries
Despite what many people assume, working in retail can have a long and lucrative career path. Here are the average salary levels that you earn at each role in a retail career:
- At entry-level, you have job titles like retail assistant, customer service advisor and shop assistant. In these roles you earn £9 per hour on average. For full time work, this is around £18,000 per year. The hourly rate depends on your location, work in London and the south east tends to pay higher than other areas of the UK, and the size and prestige of the shop.
- As a supervisor, your pay rate is only marginally above that of a customer assistant at an average of £10 per hour which is around £20,000 per year for full time work.
- Retail managers earn an average of £27,000 per year
- Store managers earn £28,000 per year on average but this can be up to £40,000 depending on the company and location
- Regional retail managers earn an average of £50,000 per year
Qualifications and training
There are several routes into a retail manager’s line of work. Here is what you need to do to become a retail manager:
Having an undergraduate degree often isn’t necessary for retail career paths. However, a degree in marketing, finance or even psychology could help you make the store successful because you learn how to make products look appealing to customers on a shelf, making them more likely to buy the products.
An alternative to degree-level education is an apprenticeship. There are many apprenticeships and graduate schemes which take young people and fast-track them to management positions within a few years.
If you’re interested in an apprenticeship or graduate scheme, you can find out what’s available to you through this government apprenticeship search tool.
Retail manager skills
Whilst the education requirements for working in retail are minimal, there are some necessary skills that you need to be successful. Many of these skills you develop through experience in the job. However, having the basics helps you stand out to a hiring manager:
- Motivation. In retail, your daily work could be repetitive and require you to do the same tasks every day. Motivating yourself and your team helps you complete everything you need to do to a high level and keep the store running well.
- Customer service skills. Your daily work typically involves talking to customers in some capacity. This might be making recommendations for products, serving customers in busy times or dealing with difficult customers who want to speak to a manager. Being able to talk to customers in a calm and friendly but authoritative way vastly improves your interactions and makes you come across as helpful and knowledgeable, even if you’re saying no to a request.
- Industry expertise. Part of your job is recommending products to customers. This requires a certain amount of knowledge about the industry that you work in. For example, if you’re working in a hardware store then you should understand the use of many different types of tools, and if you’re working in a shop selling outdoor adventure gear then you should know the advantages of using certain products over others.
- Management. As a manager, you instruct your colleagues, setting them tasks and checking on their progress. Having management skills means being able to listen to their problems but also discipline them if they step out of line. Learning to have a good balance between these two styles so you’re neither too friendly nor too harsh creates a good working environment for your staff members.
- Multi-tasking. As part of the management team, you work on several projects at once. This might be inputting your colleagues’ working times, organising delivery times and speaking to customers. Being able to put one task down and pick another one up in quick succession helps you get all your tasks done throughout the day.
Learn about the retail and FMCG skills you need to get into the sector. Do you need to brush up on your leadership skills? Complete this module on developing leadership.
Pros and cons of being a retail manager
Working in retail has positive and negative aspects. Being aware of the good and bad parts helps you know if it’s the right career path for you. Here are the pros and cons of working in retail:
- Getting started in the retail career path isn’t difficult and is accessible to most people
- There are often good pension schemes
- It’s a relatively low stress job and you can easily leave your work in the workplace
- The work is very social and includes social interaction with colleagues and customers on a daily basis
- You may get an employee discount in the store and partner companies
- You often reach a level of pay you can’t work beyond
- Customers can be difficult to deal with
- You work through most bank holidays other than Christmas. You often have to work either Christmas Eve or Boxing Day depending on the store
- You may have a pretty repetitive workload
Work-life balance of a retail manager
Most retail managers have a good work-life balance because you don’t often have overtime work and you can switch off from work when you get home. Your working hours depend on the opening times of the store you work in. If the shop opens from 9am to 5pm, your working hours are most likely to be those hours plus half an hour either side of the working day to set up and tidy away. Other stores have different opening and closing times so you may have shift work which varies depending on your rota. Most retail work includes working one weekend day per week. You also have to work most public holidays other than Christmas.
Your working life is mixed between working on the shop floor with your colleagues and in an office type area not accessible to customers. This is where you complete your administration tasks. If the store you work for has a warehouse, you also spend time out there receiving deliveries and making sure stock is stored safely.
Typical employers hiring retail managers
Retail managers are available across all shops. This extends from the large to small, and you could work with some of the top retail chains across the UK.
Related jobs to retail manager
If you’re interested in working in retail, explore the retail jobs, graduate programmes and internships available right now.