Retail graduate salaries: which retail employer pays the most?

Which supermarket chain will give you £44,000 and a BMW 3 series? Will you get paid more as a buyer or a store manager? We investigate graduate starting salaries and other benefits at top retailers.

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Despite the impact of Covid-19 on the retail sector, a number of employers in this sector are running graduate schemes. Many are cagey about the salaries on offer but we’ve researched the pay offered by some of the most popular retail brands (salaries are for the 2021–22 round of recruitment)

We’ve also looked into some of the perks available from retailers. They include staff discounts and, for some organisations, company cars and accommodation. Scroll down for our list of the pay packets given by top retailers; it's organised by retail career.

According to the Cibyl Graduate Survey 2021/2 of 67,688 students and graduates, the majority of those interested in working for retailers expected their first salary to be around £26,000. (Cibyl is a student market research business owned by the same parent company as targetjobs.) As you'll see below, there are plenty of employers that meet the mark when it comes to expectations.

Graduate starting salaries in retail management

  • Aldi : area manager graduate training programme – £44,000.
  • Farmfoods : management development programme – £22,000.
  • Lidl : graduate management programmes – £37,000.
  • McDonald’s : trainee manager scheme – £24,000–£27,000 depending on location.
  • Tesco : retail programme: £28,000–£32,000.

Graduate starting salaries in buying and merchandising

  • Lidl : buying graduate management programme – £37,000.
  • Next: buying and merchandising graduate schemes – £23.700.

Graduate starting salaries in e-commerce and technology

  • Tesco : technology programme, technology cyber security programme, technology software engineering programme and technology product programme – £32,000.

Graduate starting salaries in supply chain/logistics

  • Lidl: logistics graduate management programme – £37,000.

The benefits of a graduate job in retail

Retail remains an attractive career option for graduates, as the Cibyl Graduate Survey has shown. Each year the Graduate Survey asks students to rank their favourite employers and this year online and food retailers did well: 67,688 students and graduates from 158 universities ranked Amazon as their #2 most popular employer, ASOS #13, a rise of two places on the previous year, and Aldi #146 (climbing 17 places on the previous year. Asda climbed 54 places to reach #150.

Find out more about students’ and graduates’ most popular employers in the UK .

It’s possible that the presence of these and similar brands in our lives during lockdowns led to these rises in popularity. However, it’s also possible that the perks of a graduate job in retail are also attractive – and there no denying that some of them are. For example:

  • Aldi offers a fully expensed VW electric car and five weeks’ holiday to those on its area manager graduate training programme.
  • Farmfoods offers six weeks’ holiday to graduates on its management development programme.
  • Harrods offers a 33% staff discount and 25 days’ holiday (plus your birthday).
  • Lidl offers those on its graduate programmes a company car and 30 days’ holiday.
  • Trainee managers at Majestic Wine Warehouse get a 20% discount on products and 29 days’ holiday.
  • If you join one of Next’s three graduate schemes, you’ll get a 25% staff discount and access to a bonus scheme. You can also live alongside other trainees in a purpose-design city-centre home if you need to relocate.
  • Specsavers offers everyone on its new talent programme one day a week for six months in which they can focus on progressing their career.

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