Retail Sales Salary

Salary Overview

The median average salary for an ordinary retail salesperson is quite low. Most make just over the minimum wage. The median average salary for a non-commissioned based retail salesperson is $9.04 per hour. If the individual works in a commissioned-based position or private industry, the median average salary is $18 per hour. Some individuals in commissioned-based positions may earn as much as $30 per hour or more. Retail positions that involve the automobile industry or the building industry may earn as much as $18 or $11 per hour, respectively. Nearly 84% of retail positions in the clothing industry are in the field of retail sales. Individuals in management positions may tend to earn more as they progress in their positions. Individuals selling jewelry and shoes tend to earn more income.*

*According to the BLS,

Job Description and Outlook

Retail salespersons are available to help customers purchase merchandise. During the selection process, sales people are available to help consumers locate and select the desired merchandise. Retail salespersons may advise consumers on the size, color, style, availability, model, or other attributes of the product. Some retail sales persons must have extensive knowledge of a product to provide accurate information to consumers. Retail sales may require extensive knowledge of electronics sales, such as plasma televisions, stereo equipment, alarm systems or others. Building equipment sales may also require extensive knowledge of the merchandise. Sales people may need to know the specifications of several manufacturer’s products in order to appear knowledgeable and close a deal. Car retail sales involves extensive knowledge of vehicles.

Sales people also must know how to enter a sale into the electronic cash register. This may require knowing how to make count money and make appropriate change. Any shortages may result in release from the position and possible criminal charges. Some stores have cashiers; however, most sales people need to be aware of the process. Sales people may also be responsible for inventory, returns, exchanges, stocking shelves, preparing displays, and other items. An awareness of store security and anti-theft devices are also a part of the job description.

As individuals progress in retail sales, they may seek positions as buyers, department managers, store managers, marketing, or others. Buyer positions are coveted in the retail industry, because buyers have control over the merchandise sold in the store.

Management decides when merchandise will be reduced in price. They will decide when promotions are awarded and the profitability of the department. Management is charged with developing strategies for sales of merchandise and other related profit earning strategies.

The job prospects are expected to increase by 11 percent by 2018. This is an average increase and is similar to other industries. The growth in retail is difficult to assess because the growth is largely based upon the economy and consumer’s spending habits. Retail stores, such as wholesale, superstores and discount department stores will expand. However, as online shopping grows, stores will lose revenue to online websites. Traditional retail sales will account for the majority of sales, however. Managers must assess market fluctuations to accurately predict industry sales. Managers with inaccurate assessments may cause a business to become bankrupt or close its doors.*

*According to the BLS,

Training and Education Requirements

Most retail sales people need no training aside from high school. Many organizations will provide on-the-job training. First time job seekers, young people, senior citizens, part-time workers and others are usually all qualified for retail positions. Most retail positions promote from within. Individuals with a college degree and computer skills are most often suited for a management position. Jobs within corporate sales or marketing require degrees in marketing, business, supply chain management, or in the case of clothing retail, retail management or business and fashion design.

Experienced managers will be in charge of hiring new employees, setting schedules, training, and the sales of the department. Training seminars may be held frequently to inform retail sales of new business practices and customer service skills.

Since no formal education is required most retail sales persons are required to be neat in appearance, must be able to communicate well, must enjoy working with people and have a pleasant personality. These individuals should also be knowledgeable about the products they are selling or possess the aptitude to learn. Employees may be promoted based upon the number of commissioned sales, experience, or performance in other areas. Each employee should have the gift of persuasion and be willing to learn while on the job. Though desirable, it is not required to have a college degree to earn a managerial position. Computer skills will help with sales forecasting, electronic commerce, inventory control, human resources, and business and finance.


Individuals who desire certification to prove their credentials may receive certification from the National Retail Federation. Most companies do not require certification. However, those who obtain certification may earn a certificate by passing an exam. The exam will cover aspects of customer service and sales related occupations.

Professional Associations

Individuals who would like to become a member of a professional organization may select from the following. This list is not exhaustive, but will provide a couple of examples.

  • International Council of Shopping Centers – New York,
  • National Retail Federation – Washington, D.C.

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