The future of retail: Which jobs have the most potential?

Retail trends

Electronic shopping has quickly become a major player in the retail industry.

From 2001 through 2016, while the overall number of jobs in the U.S. grew by about 9 percent, the Retail Trade industry only grew by 3 percent, according to data provided by Emsi. But this isn’t necessarily surprising – this time frame covers an historic financial collapse and recession, after all – but there are other forces at work reshaping the Retail Trade industry and the type of jobs it provides from within.

New kid on the block
Taking a closer look at the Retail Trade industry, it’s clear that a major shift has occurred in the past 15 years – namely the growth of online shopping. While the Retail Trade industry only grew by 3 percent, Electronic Shopping (a sub-industry within Retail Trade) grew by 299 percent, adding 200,011 jobs.

Electronic Shopping far outpaces any other sub-industry within Retail Trade in terms of percentage growth. But given e-shopping’s newness in 2001, that’s hardly surprising. Two other retail sub-industries – “Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters” and “Home Centers” – actually each added more jobs than Electronic Shopping since 2001 (737,284 and 204,479, respectively), but since both were already large employers in 2001, this growth seems less significant when viewed as a percentage.

Similarly, the largest retail sub-industry “Supermarkets and Other Grocery (except Convenience) Stores” grew by only 6 percent, which may not sound like much, but translates to 138,049 jobs – more new jobs than any other retail sub-industry apart from the three mentioned above.

Recession-resistant retail
Of course, for most industries, job growth from 2001 to 2016 was anything but steady. The recession impacted hiring in every corner of the economy, retail included. But unlike other retail sub-industry behemoths, Electronic Shopping was largely unhindered by the recession between 2007 and 2010, and its post-recession growth has trounced that of other sub-industries.

Pre-recession, from 2001-2007, Electronic Shopping saw a growth of 43 percent. During the recession, from 2007-2010 this slowed to 19 percent growth, but came roaring back from 2010-2016 with 153 percent growth in jobs post-recession.

For comparison, here’s how some of the other largest retail sub-industries fared:

  • Supermarkets and Other Grocery (except Convenience) Stores – 2 percent decline pre-recession, 1 percent decline during, and 9 percent growth post-recession
  • Warehouse Clubs and Supercenters – 46 percent growth pre-recession, 4 percent growth during, and 30 percent post-recession
  • New Car Dealers – 1 percent decline pre-recession, 19 percent decline during, and 24 percent growth post-recession
  • Discount Department Stores – 6 percent growth pre-recession, 2 percent decline during, and 10 percent decline post-recession
  • Pharmacies and Drug Stores – 7 percent growth pre-recession, 3 percent decline during, and 2 percent growth post-recession
  • Home Centers – 36 percent growth pre-recession, 6 percent decline during, and 10 percent growth post-recession
  • Department Stores (except Discount Department Stores) – 26 percent decline pre-recession, 12 percent decline during, and 16 percent decline post-recession

Top growing jobs in Electronic Shopping
It’s clear that if you’re looking for retail jobs that are growing, Electronic Shopping has a lot to offer. But which occupations are driving Electronic Shopping’s rapid growth? What occupations does this sub-industry even employ? Here are some of the occupations that have seen the highest growth of new jobs specifically within this industry, and with at least 5,000 jobs in the industry in 2016:

Retail salespersons
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 10,239
2010-2016 percent growth: 160 percent

Packers and packagers, hand
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 9,935
2010-2016 percent growth: 156 percent

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 9,255
2010-2016 percent growth: 154 percent

General operations managers
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 5,111
2010-2016 percent growth: 152 percent

First-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 5,626
2010-2016 percent growth: 151 percent

Customer service representatives
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 33,263
2010-2016 percent growth: 150 percent

Stock clerks and order fillers
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 10,439
2010-2016 percent growth: 149 percent

Shipping, receiving and traffic clerks
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 17,070
2010-2016 percent growth: 147 percent

Order clerks
2016 jobs in electronic shopping: 12,402
2010-2016 percent growth: 125 percent

Looking for a job in retail sales? Check out these 8 tips to creating the perfect retail sales resume.