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Whether it was your first job when you turned 16, something you do on the weekends to score some extra cash or it's your full-time career, most of us have dabbled into the retail industry at some point or another. If you haven't, it might be time to consider it.
"There's never been a better time to begin a career in retail," says Laura Kavanaugh, director of WorkInRetail.com, an online resource focused on career development in the retail industry. "Retail is one of the largest industries in the United States. Not only does it have abundant job openings in a variety of areas, but additional perks make it desirable to people at any stage in their careers."
The retail industry makes up about 11 percent of total U.S. employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As one of the largest industries in the United States, annual retail employment averaged 15.5 million people in 2007. Also in 2007, retail workers averaged $12.76 per hour and 30.2 hours per week. By 2016, the industry is expected to have over 16 million jobs, a 4.5 percent increase since 2006.
"Retailers have tons of open positions, but they often struggle to find qualified candidates. Employers are focused on attracting top talent by improving benefits, compensation and growth opportunities," Kavanaugh says. "The opportunity to work in retail is there, but it's up to job seekers to find the right fit for them."
Here are four areas where Kavanaugh says job seekers can expect change in the retail industry, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey.
- Bigger paychecks. Retail employers are offering higher compensation. Seventy-four percent of retail employers plan to increase salaries for existing employees and 50 percent expect to boost salaries offered to new candidates.
- Career advancement. Twenty-eight percent of retail employers will give more promotions and advancement opportunities because of the current worker shortage.
- Improved benefits and perks. Forty-five percent of retailers will provide more flexible schedules; 21 percent will offer better health benefits and 10 percent are offering better perks than in previous years.
- Rehiring retirees. Twenty-eight percent of employers will hire retirees from other companies and 11 percent plan to provide incentives to workers approaching retirement age to stay with the company longer.
Intrigued by the retail industry? Here are 10 great jobs to get you rolling down the retail path.
Duties: Endorse products to consumers and encourage sales for retail stores by sampling the items and answering questions customers have about the product.
Duties: Help customers find what they're looking for and assist with buying decisions by answering questions and recommending merchandise when applicable.
Salary: $9.60/hour; wages differ by industry.
Duties: Direct promotional programs designed to drive sales for specific products through advertising and buying incentives.
Duties: Tend to cash registers in an establishment; receive money; make change; give receipts; total registers and bills and handle exchanges.
Salary: $9.94/hour; wages differ by industry.
Duties: Assist customers by responding to inquiries; answer questions; handle and resolve complaints; and answer questions about procedures and policies.
Salary: $13.62/hour; wages differ according to experience, training and size of company.
Duties: Buy products to resell to consumers at the wholesale or retail level; determine latest trends both in merchandise and sales, and keep track of competitor's sales activities.
Duties: Create displays in the windows and inside of retail stores; stock shelves and rotate shelved merchandise.
Duties: Manage loss prevention activities, like asset protection, store safety and security equipment; create security and theft prevention programs.
Duties: Oversee buyers' activities related to buying and distributing materials, products and services; direct and regulate purchasing programs, policies and procedures.
10. Mystery shopper
Duties: Anonymously assess customer service, merchandising tactics, product quality and other consumer experiences by shopping at specified retailers.
Salary**: $5-$20 per experience, depending on the type of store.
*Median earnings from May 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
** According to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.
Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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