The retail sector

Retail is the largest private sector employer in the UK – that’s big business!   As well as sales roles, there are many behind-the-scenes jobs such as buying, social media, stock control, logistics and store operations – all important links in the chain. Some of these jobs demand a creative streak, others need digital and ICT skills. What’s more, if you have the drive, it’s easy to move quickly up the career ladder to a management position.


What is happening?

  • The retail sector employs around 40,500 people across the whole of Norfolk with Norwich one of the top shopping destinations in the UK but with shops and stores in every town across the county.  
  • Technology is changing the types of jobs on offer in this sector.  Self-service machines mean fewer sales and customer service assistants will be needed but we're likely to need around 60,000 retail managers in the UK by 2022. 
  • A growing trend for online shopping means there are some exciting job roles in retail such as e-commerce merchandiser, digital marketer, app developer and social media manager. These types of jobs are usually found at the head offices of major retailers.
  • Got an entrepreneurial streak? Online stores, local produce and ‘niche’ shops are all popular ideas amongst those wanting to set up their own retail business.
  • Many big names in food retail, high street and online shopping have apprenticeship and graduate schemes.

Skills and qualities

  • Communication
  • Digital and ICT skills
  • Customer awareness
  • Team working
  • Leadership and management
  • Planning and organisation
  • Business knowledge
  • Problem solving
  • Design
  • Creativity
  • English
  • Maths
  • Enthusiasm

Useful Subjects

  • Maths
  • English
  • Languages
  • Business studies
  • ICT
  • Design & technology
  • Art & design
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

 What could you earn?

Check-out operator £11,700 - £18,700
Sales assistant £11,900 - £28,000
Window dresser £15,200 - £27,600
Marketing professional £18,450 - £35,650
Retail manager £16,500 - £53,900
Clothing designer £21,150 - £39,050
Web designer £20,050 - £39,050
Business analyst £23,650 - £60,200
Chief executive £39,450 - £132,350

Local employers


Pathways into the sector

Getting good grades in maths and English will help you to get into this sector and once you're in, there are opportunities to move up the ladder.  Remember that company head offices often have lots of interesting roles on offer such as social media expert, data analyst, buyer, HR, finance and IT professional.

At 16, options include A levels, a vocational qualification or an apprenticeship in an area such as retail team leader or customer service.  Entry requirements for apprenticeships can vary so check first.

At 18 or 19, you could opt to study for a higher education qualification, train through an apprenticeship or develop your skills while working.

Gaining relevant experience, such as work experience, a paid job or voluntary work will improve your chances of finding a job in this sector.

Alternative routes into this sector

If you don't have the skills, confidence or experience to progress into further education courses or get an apprenticeship in this sector, you could consider a traineeship or other short course - a course with work experience that can help prepare you for further education, work or an apprenticeship.

On Help You Choose you can find information on courses, apprenticeships and other options.

On the web