Sell merchandise, such as furniture, motor vehicles, appliances, or apparel in a retail establishment.
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Employment is expected to grow about as fast as average. Due to the frequency with which people leave this occupation, job opportunities are expected to be good.
Employment is expected to grow by 8 percent over the 2008–18 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. In addition, given the size of this occupation, about 374,700 new retail salesperson jobs will arise over the projections decade—more jobs than will be generated in almost any other occupation.
Employment growth among retail salespersons reflects rising retail sales stemming from a growing population. Many retail establishments will continue to expand in size and number, leading to new retail sales positions. Growth will be fastest in general merchandise stores, many of which sell a wide assortment of goods at low prices. As consumers continue to prefer these stores other establishments with higher prices, growth in this industry will be rapid. Employment of retail sales persons is expected to decline in department stores and automobile dealers as these industries see a reduction in store locations.
Despite the growing popularity of electronic commerce, the impact of online shopping on the employment of retail salespersons is expected to be minimal. Internet sales have not decreased the need for retail salespersons. Retail stores commonly use an online presence to complement their in-store sales, and many consumers prefer to buy merchandise in person. Retail salespersons will remain important in assisting customers, providing specialized service, and increasing customer satisfaction.
Employment opportunities for retail salespersons are expected to be good because of the need to replace the large number of workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force each year. In addition, many new jobs will be created for retail salespersons as businesses seek to expand operations and enhance customer service. A substantial number of these openings should occur in warehouse clubs and supercenters as a result of strong growth among these establishments.
Opportunities for part-time work should be abundant, and demand is expected be strong for temporary workers during peak selling periods, such as the end-of-year holiday season between Thanksgiving and the beginning of January.
During economic downturns, sales volumes and the resulting demand for sales workers usually decline. Consequently, retail sales jobs generally are more susceptible to fluctuations in the economy than are many other occupations.
Retail salespersons held about 4.5 million jobs in 2008. The largest employers were clothing and clothing accessories stores, department stores, building material and supplies dealers, motor vehicle and parts dealers, and general merchandise stores such as warehouse clubs and supercenters. In addition, about 156,500 retail salespersons were self-employed.
Because retail stores are found in every city and town, employment is distributed geographically in much the same way as the population.
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience maybe helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a drywall installer could benefit from experience in installing dry wall, but an inexperienced person could learn the job fairly easily.
These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job related course work. In some cases, you may need an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.
Drywall installers, fire inspectors, flight attendants, pharmacy technicians, retail salespersons, and bank tellers.
In these occupations you can often use your knowledge and skills to help others.
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Information on careers in retail sales may be obtained from the personnel offices of local stores or from State merchants' associations.
General information about retailing is available from:
- National Retail Federation, 325 7th St. NW., Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20004. Internet: http://www.nrf.com
Information about training for a career in automobile sales is available from:
- National Automobile Dealers Association, Public Relations Department, 8400 Westpark Dr., McLean, VA 22102-3591. Internet: http://www.nada.org
Sources: O*Net data version 12.0
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Department of Labor
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