Retail manager: job description

Retail manager: job description

Retail managers are responsible for every aspect of the day-to-day supervision of retail outlets, including sales, staff, stock and resources management.
You'll need good commercial and people skills to succeed in retail management.

What does a retail manager do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

A retail manager’s role is to run a store successfully. Working on the shop floor, they are in constant contact with their customers and staff. They are responsible for ensuring their staff give great customer service as well as monitoring the financial performance of the store.

Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • recruiting, training, supervising and appraising staff
  • managing budgets
  • maintaining statistical and financial records
  • dealing with customer queries and complaints
  • overseeing pricing and stock control
  • maximising profitability and setting/meeting sales targets, including motivating staff to do so
  • ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation
  • preparing promotional materials and displays
  • liaising with head office

Salaries, benefits and promotional prospects are generally good, with retail chains offering the highest incomes and the best opportunities for advancement, including possibilities of employment within Europe. Relocation is a common requirement for promotion and during initial training programmes.

You can find out more about what life in retail management is like by reading our overview of retail management. If you want to explore your options, you can also find overviews of eight other careers in retail in our retail job roles explained section.

You can also find out how two graduate retail managers from Tesco got their jobs in retail management here.

Typical employers of retail managers

  • Department stores
  • DIY stores
  • Chain stores
  • Supermarkets

In fact, every retailer you see on the high street will need store managers.

Opportunities are advertised by careers services, online on targetjobs.co.uk, in local, regional and national newspapers and in publications such as Retail Week and the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, as well as their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a retail management career for both university graduates and school leavers, although there are generally fewer opportunities available for school leavers. For graduates, a degree in any discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession, although a qualification in subjects such as accounting, languages, fashion or marketing can be advantageous within certain sectors. Business studies or management degree holders may also be at an advantage. Some employers might ask for candidates with a 2.1 degree or above but some will accept a 2.2. Take a look at our list of retail employers who accept graduates with a 2.2 degree.

Vacancies, particularly those with major retail chains, attract strong competition, so relevant commercial, sales or retail work experience is normally beneficial. Larger employers run vacation courses and offer ‘year out’ and shorter work placements, which can provide valuable contacts and a useful insight into the profession. Use our guide to retail work experience to help you explore your options. Experience in a part-time retail job, such as a sales assistant, is equally valuable. You can find out the top ten skills you’ll gain from working in part-time retail jobs here.

To find out about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the retail, buying and fashion section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for retail managers

  • Enthusiasm
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Numerical skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Teamworking skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Resourcefulness
  • Confidence
  • Commercial awareness

For more information on the skills you’ll need, read our article on the five skills retail employers look for – and how you can prove that you possess them.

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