Retail Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Retail managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of department stores, local or national chain stores, supermarkets and independent shops selling goods such as clothes, shoes, gifts, jewellery or electrical items.

In large stores, there may be more than one manager, each responsible for a specific department.

Their duties usually include:

  • Making sure premises and displays are well maintained.
  • Organising stock checking and re-ordering as necessary, through computerised or manual systems.
  • Making sure targets are reached and all opportunities are taken to increase sales and profitability.
  • Organising sales and promotions.
  • Managing other staff.
  • Recruiting, interviewing and training staff.
  • Maintaining a good standard of customer care.
  • Being aware of changing customer trends and expectations.
  • Dealing with queries or complaints from customers.
  • Seeing that all security, health and safety and legal procedures are carried out.

Most stores use computerised tills linked to stock control and ordering systems. Managers need to make sure these systems work efficiently and that all staff use them correctly.

Retail managers usually work around 35 hours a week. Shop opening hours in towns are usually between 9am and 10am to 5.30pm or 6pm, including Saturdays, and sometimes with late night openings for shoppers once a week. Working hours in out-of-town stores are more flexible, according to the type of business, with opening hours from 8am up to 10pm. Some supermarkets trade 24 hours a day.

Managers are often in early to prepare for the day and stay after closing to make sure systems and premises are closed down and secured properly. Job sharing and part-time work may be available in some places.

Work is indoors in a busy, often noisy environment. Although managers may have their own office or private area, they spend most of their time in the public areas. The work involves standing, walking and sometimes bending and stretching when displaying goods or showing items to customers. Many shops and stores provide a uniform.

Starting salaries for retail managers are around £12,500 a year. Pension schemes, staff discounts and other benefits may be available.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are good opportunities, as nearly three million people work in retail jobs across the UK. Retail managers are employed by national or international companies running shops and stores across the country, department stores and independent retail businesses of different types and sizes.

Most shops and stores handle their own staff recruitment, so it is worth personally contacting local ones to find out about job vacancies. Jobs may be advertised in local newspapers or on websites of national retail companies.

Other useful retail job websites include, and

Education and Training

There are no set academic requirements to work in retail, although employers may prefer applicants for supervisory or management posts to have at least five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), and A levels/H grades are also useful. Experience of working with customers, especially in a retail environment, is very important.

Useful qualifications include:

  • BTEC national awards in retail.
  • OCR (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA Examinations) Certificate in Retail.
  • City & Guilds Certificate in Retailing.
  • Education Development Institute (EDI) Certificate in Retailing Opportunities.
  • BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) in Retail Management.
  • Foundation degree in retail management and leadership.
  • Degree in retail management.

It may be possible to start in retail work through an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

Many retail managers have been promoted from sales assistant and supervisory positions, by demonstrating competence and enthusiasm to train further and progress.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Larger retail businesses have their own training schemes and centres for supervisory and management training.

Some national retail businesses run graduate trainee management schemes for entrants with a suitable degree, but places are limited on these schemes. Contact national retail businesses for details of their graduate schemes. Graduate trainee management schemes are usually a combination of skills training and work placement in one or more of a company's stores.

On-the-job retail qualifications include:

- NVQs/SVQs in Retail Operations Levels 2 and 3
- City & Guilds Diploma in Retail Management Level 4
- BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Retail Management.

Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail, and the British Shops and Stores Association can provide information on training and development opportunities for retail managers.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A retail manager should:

  • Know the company's products and procedures well.
  • Be committed to providing a high standard of customer service.
  • Be able to lead and motivate a team.
  • Be confident, energetic and quick-thinking.
  • Have excellent spoken and written communication skills.
  • Be able to take responsibility and make decisions.
  • Have a smart appearance.
  • Be organised.
  • Be able to deal effectively with problems and complaints.
  • Be able to balance business and customer needs.
  • Have a good knowledge of legal and security issues.
  • Have relevant commercial skills for the business.

Your Long Term Prospects

There may be opportunities for retail managers working for larger businesses to become senior managers, area managers or move into a head office management position. However, managers may have to move to a different location for promotion.

With experience and enthusiasm, retail managers in smaller, independent shops and stores may progress to similar positions in larger stores.

Get Further Information

British Independent Retailers Association, 225 Bristol Road, Edgbaston,
Birmingham B5 7UB

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