Retail Myths Busted

A dead end career with limited career pathways….. NO

Most people believe that retail is just a steppingstone, an opportunity to obtain people skills before moving into other careers. This is because they don't see the myriad of opportunities that exist beyond the cashier and sales assistant positions of the shop floor. Retail businesses range from corner stores to multi-national operations. It is a complex industry with a huge variety of career destinations. There are career pathways that can take you from the shop floor to retail executive, or you could consider all the other jobs in retail businesses in areas such as finance, marketing, loss prevention, buying, human resources, visual merchandising, communication, e-commerce and information technology.

"Retail offers a greater variety of opportunities for the ambitious & hardworking than any other industry."

The retail industry offers significant and varied employment opportunities. Part-time and temporary work is plentiful in a wide range of operations from small independent retailers to national and multinational chains. Not to mention the huge diversity of sectors that retail includes:

  • Supermarkets
  • Specialty Foods
  • Fast Food & Take-away
  • Fruit and Vegetable
  • Liquor
  • Department Stores
  • Discount & Variety Stores
  • Community Pharmacy
  • Floristry
  • Jewellery
  • Newsagents, Stationery and Bookshops
  • Specialty Stores
  • Fashion, Clothing & Footwear
  • Home & Lifestyle
  • Entertainment, Communication & Technology
  • Sport, Recreation & Leisure
  • Hardware, Trade and Gardening
  • Wholesale & Logistics


Low income & lack of opportunities to grow.....NO

The great thing about retail is you can start at entry level and progress up. A lot of industries can be quite stagnant for new employees, but retail isn't like that, and there are some fantastic opportunities for those prepared to put in the eff ort. Early responsibility is common, particularly if you gain the relevant qualifications or complete company training programs.

Although initial award wages are not particularly high in the retail industry, better paid roles are within the reach of anyone prepared to learn and take on challenges. As you gain experience and increased responsibility, your salary increases. In addition, the modernisation of the industrial awards has improved conditions - for example, casual workers must now be given at least 24 hours notice to be engaged.

While mining and defence may have better wages, often these jobs are short term and in remote locations - not great for lifestyle and social opportunities. In addition, in retail jobs staff discounts can be an extra benefit, particularly if you work in a store that relates to your passion and interests.
Young people can earn a good income - for example a 19 year old who has gone through the company management program can earn around $40,000 managing a fast food outlet.

There are over 21,600 management jobs in the South Australian retail industry, which is more than the total number of workers in the South Australian mining and defence industries combined!

This means there are a huge number of supervisory and management positions available! For those who grasp promotion opportunities the rewards are there - a regional manager can earn a six-figure income (around $250,000) - but of course that does come with extra responsibilities and longer hours! You can also move into a range of office and administration roles such as finance, HR, stock control and logistics.

In addition, the industry has a high number of small business owners - perfect if you have an entrepreneurial streak and want to be your own boss.

"Retail is a lifetime of career opportunities - selling, buying, merchandising, supply chain, supervisory, management and executive positions in a huge variety of retail businesses all over the world!"


Low skilled work – tertiary education not required.....NO

One of the great things about a retail career is you have a choice about how far you extend your studies. With retail traineeships and in-house training programs, you don't need a qualification to get your career started - you can earn as you learn.

However those who think retail is a low skilled job are mistaken - even entry-level roles require a good range of skills. For example a 14-15 year old checkout operator has to deal with a wide variety of behaviours exhibited by customers (some which can be very challenging), while following company procedures and policies. Retail employees working at entry-level need all the following skills to be successful:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Technology
  • Self-management
  • Planning and organisation
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Customer service.

Retail has long been regarded as an industry that offers 'jobs' not 'careers', but this is changing rapidly. Many university graduates are choosing retail as a career path undertaking degrees in business and retail, while school leavers can undertake traineeships in retail to kick start their career.

While it used to be true that you didn't need a degree to succeed in retail increasingly the complexity of the retail environment means that most managers are undertaking Diplomas, Graduate Certificates and Masters qualifications to enhance their skills and career prospects. Now there are nationally recognised qualifications in retail from Certificate I through to Diploma level, and even University Degrees available for those keen to progress.

Some people choose to enter the retail industry at a higher level, rather than work their way up. This happens most often in specialist areas such as
accounting, IT and marketing.

"Retail is hotter than ever and there is always room for smart, innovative people if you love meeting new people and helping them find products to meet their needs, then retail is the place for you."