Estimated graduate starting salary: £17,000 - £26,000 Typical salary after training: £30,000 - £45,000+ Retail Graduate Jobs
Today, retail is the UK's largest employer outside the business services and health sectors. The retail industry employs over 3 million people and the sector has an annual turnover of £265 billion. The industry will see further growth with the creation of 270,000 new jobs in the years leading up to 2012, over thirty percent of these at a managerial/professional level.
The industry is currently undergoing huge changes as more channels to market become available and the traditional high street environment comes under greater pressure. Supermarkets continue to place significant emphasis on their web offering, and companies such as Amazon have completely redrawn the lines of business for book and music stores. The growth of the internet as a sales tool has heavily influenced the recruitment demands of many retail organisations. Today, there is a high demand for graduates with a good understanding of the internet revolution, and huge opportunities exist in web marketing, web analytics, and web sales roles.
As a result of these changes, retailers are having to identify new markets and customers whilst maintaining their traditional consumer base. Many high street chains have added to their traditional supplier base, moving into new product ranges to provide customers with an all-round consumer experience. Supermarkets in particular not only sell food, but clothing lines, electrical goods and household furniture. This is providing further opportunities for graduates in other, more traditional, retail roles. Greater emphasis is also being placed on research, product development and marketing.
Many of the large high street retailers offer fast track graduate management training schemes. Providing an insight into all business departments, such recruiters allow graduates to ultimately choose which career path to take. Programmes offer both classroom and on the job training, therefore allowing trainees to quickly gain industry and job-specific knowledge.
Graduate trainees can gain experience across the fields of buying, merchandising, analytical work, logistics, human resources and marketing (including brand and online marketing). The retail industry can offer a structured career path and many graduates go on to become business leaders and senior managers.
There are few careers that allow graduates to take such immediate responsibility for their performance and actions and many successful graduate retail employees reach managerial status after just a few years. Generally, employees will start a career within an Assistant position, but advancement is sharp and consistent across the industry.
At present there is a huge graduate demand to fill positions in the following areas of retail:
- Merchandising: ensuring the supply chain runs effectively so that goods are in-store when consumers require them. Merchandisers work alongside buyers, allocating stock to various outlets by analysing sales trends and forecasting for future demand. They are also responsible for negotiating prices with suppliers and implementing promotions strategy. - Business Analysis: disseminating large amounts of data to identify industry and market trends as the basis of an overall business strategy. Analysts are the "eyes and ears" of the organisation, studying the habits and behavioral trends of it's customers. - Marketing: planning and implementing a retailer's traditional and web marketing strategy. Marketing has become a key business differentiator in this sector as the landscape has become more and more competitive. - Buyer: a very popular route for graduates, the position of buyer ensures a retailer has the stock to sell to its consumers. They identify market trends and predict forecasts in stores and online channels. They often work with suppliers to fill a hole in the market with new products.
Qualifications and skills needed
Retail organisations are not subject specific in their graduate requirements and actively welcome applicants from a wide variety of degree courses. Current trends suggest that the majority of graduate retail employees come from a numerical or BSc background, but opportunities also exist for BA students, particularly in business support roles such as marketing. Recruiters seek graduates who are able to demonstrate the following on their CVs:
- Strong analytical skills - Common sense with commercial awareness - Good communication skills - Organisational skills - People management skills - An understanding of the high street - Experience on the shop floor or store level