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In every one of the thousands of retail stores across the country, there is at least one retail sales worker supervisor or manager. Because the retail trade industry provides goods and services directly to customers, the retail supervisor or manager is responsible for ensuring that customers receive prompt service and quality goods. They also answer customers' complaints and inquiries.
Retail supervisors and managers oversee the work of sales associates, cashiers, customer service workers, stock and inventory clerks, and grocery clerks. (Some of these occupations are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.) Retail supervisors and managers also are responsible for interviewing, hiring, and training employees, as well as preparing work schedules and assigning workers to their specific duties. (Managers in eating and drinking places are discussed in the Handbook statement on restaurant and food service managers.)
The responsibilities of retail sales worker supervisors and managers vary depending on the size and type of establishment as well as the level of management. As the size of the retail store and the types of goods and services increase, these workers increasingly specialize in one department or one aspect of merchandising. Larger organizations tend to have many layers of management. Similar to other industries, supervisory-level retail managers usually report to their mid-level counterparts who, in turn, report to top-level managers. Small stores and stores that carry specialized merchandise typically have fewer levels of management.
Supervisory-level retail managers, often known as department managers, provide the day-to-day oversight of individual departments such as shoes, cosmetics, or housewares in large department stores, produce and meat in grocery stores, and service and sales in automotive dealerships. Department managers commonly are found in large retail stores. They establish and implement policies, goals, objectives, and procedures for their specific departments; coordinate activities with other department heads; and strive for smooth operations within their departments. They supervise employees who price and ticket goods and place them on display; clean and organize shelves, displays, and inventory in stockrooms; and inspect merchandise to ensure that none is outdated. Department managers also may greet and assist customers and promote sales and good public relations. Department managers also review inventory and sales records, develop merchandising techniques, and coordinate sales promotions.
In smaller or independent retail stores, retail sales worker supervisors and managers not only directly supervise sales associates, but are also responsible for the operation of the entire store. In these instances, they may also be called a store manager. Some are also store owners.
Most retail sales worker supervisors and managers have offices within the store itself. Although some of their time is spent in the office completing merchandise orders or arranging work schedules, a large portion of a their time is spent on the sales floor.
Work hours vary greatly among retail establishments. The work schedule of retail supervisors and managers usually depends on consumers' needs. Most work around 40 hours a week, but longer hours are common, especially during holidays, busy shopping hours and seasons, sales, and store inventory. They are expected to work evenings and weekends, but usually are compensated by getting a weekday off. Hours can change weekly, and managers sometimes may have to report to work on short notice, especially when many employees are absent. Independent owners can set their own schedules, but hours must be convenient to their customers.
Retail sales worker supervisors and managers who work in retail trade held about 888,000 wage and salary jobs in 1994. In addition, there were thousands of self-employed retail sales managers, mainly store owners. Managers are found in every retail trade industrygrocery stores, department stores, clothing and shoe stores, automotive dealers, and furniture stores are among the largest industries.
Knowledge of management principles and practices is the essential requirement for a management position in retail trade, and such knowledge usually is acquired through work experience. Many supervisors and managers begin their careers on the sales floor as sales clerks, cashiers, or customer service workers. In these positions they learn merchandising, customer service, and the basic policies and procedures of the store.
The educational background of retail sales worker supervisors and managers varies widely. Regardless of the education received, business courses including accounting, administration, marketing, management, and sales, as well as courses in psychology, sociology, and communication, are helpful. Supervisors and managers also must be computer literate as cash registers and inventory control systems become more computerized.
Most supervisors and managers who have postsecondary education hold an associate or a bachelor's degree in liberal arts, social science, business, or management. To gain experience, many postsecondary students participate in internship programs which usually are planned between individual schools and retail firms.
Once on the job, the type and amount of training available for supervisors and managers varies from store to store. Many national chains have formal training programs for management trainees, which include both classroom and in-store training. Training may last from 1 week to 1 year or more, as many retail organizations require their trainees to gain experience during all shopping seasons. Other retail organizations may not have formal training programs.
Classroom training may include such topics as interviewing and customer service skills, and employee and inventory management and scheduling. Management trainees may be placed in one specific department while training on the job, or they may be rotated among several departments to gather a well-rounded knowledge of the store's operation. Training programs in franchises generally are extensive, covering all functions of the operation, including promotion, marketing, management, finance, purchasing, product preparation, human resource management, and compensation. College graduates usually enter management training programs directly.
Retail sales worker supervisors and managers must get along with all kinds of people. They need initiative, self-discipline, good judgment, and decisiveness. Patience and a mild temperament are necessary when dealing with demanding customers. They also must be able to motivate and organize and direct the work of subordinates and communicate clearly and persuasively with customers and other managers.
Individuals who display leadership skills, self-confidence, motivation, and decisiveness become candidates for promotion to assistant store manager or store manager. Increasingly, a postsecondary degree is needed for advancement because it is viewed by employers as a sign of motivation and maturityqualities deemed important for promotion to more responsible positions. In many retail establishments, managers are promoted from within the company. In small retail establishments, where the number of positions is limited, advancement to a higher management position may come slowly. Larger establishments have more extensive career ladder programs and offer managers the opportunity to transfer to another store in the chain or to the central office if an opening occurs. Promotion may occur more quickly in larger establishments, but relocation every several years may be necessary for advancement. Positions within the central office to which sales supervisors and managers can move include marketing, advertising, and public relations managers, who coordinate marketing plans, monitor sales, and propose advertisements and promotions, and purchasers and buyers, who purchase goods and supplies for their organization or for resale. (Both occupations are covered in other Handbook statements.)
Some supervisors and managers who have worked in the retail industry for a long time decide to open their own store. However, retail trade is highly competitive, and although many independent retail owners succeed, some fail to cover expenses and eventually go out of business. Retail owners need good business sense and strong customer service and public relations skills.
Jobs in retail management vary greatly in earnings, weekly hours, number of employees supervised, and type of goods and services provided. Since most jobs for retail sales worker supervisors and managers do not require postsecondary education, competition is expected for jobs with the most attractive earnings and working conditions. Candidates who have retail experience will have the best opportunities.
Overall employment of wage and salary retail sales worker supervisors and managers is expected to about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2005 as grocery stores, department stores, automotive dealerships, and other retail establishments grow in number and size. Establishment size has been increasing as retailers seek to accommodate consumers' desires for a greater selection of merchandise and one-stop shopping. The specialization arising from creation of new departments within existing stores and the offering of additional product lines should spur the demand for store-level retail sales worker supervisors and managers.
Projected employment growth of retail managers will mirror, in part, the patterns of employment growth in industries in which they are concentrated. For example, faster than average growth is expected in miscellaneous shopping goods stores and in appliance, radio, television, and music stores. Average growth is expected in drug stores and proprietary stores, shoe stores, gasoline service stations, and motor vehicle dealers. On the other hand, slower than average growth is expected in department stores.
Unlike middle- and upper-level management positions, store-level retail supervisors and managers generally will not be affected by the restructuring and consolidating that is taking place at the corporate and headquarters level of many retail chain companies.
Because retail supervisors and managers comprise a large occupation, most job openings are expected to occur as experienced supervisors and managers move into higher levels of management, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force.
Salaries of retail managers vary substantially, depending upon the level of responsibility, length of service, and type, size, and location of the firm.
Supervisors or managers of sales workers in the retail trade industry who usually worked full time had median weekly earnings of $445 in 1994. The middle 50 percent earned between $310 and $623. The top 10 percent earned more than $907 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $240.
According to a survey sponsored by the Association of Convenience Stores, the average total compensation for assistant store managers in the U.S. and Canada ranged between $13,700 and $16,300 a year in 1994, depending on the size of the organization. Store managers received between $21,900 and $26,300 on average.
Compensation systems vary by type of establishment and merchandise sold. Many managers receive a commission or a combination of salary and commission. Under a commission system, retail managers receive a percentage of department or store sales. These systems offer managers the opportunity to significantly increase their earnings, but they may find that their earnings depend on their ability to sell their product and the condition of the economy. Those managers who sell large amounts of merchandise often are rewarded with bonuses and awards, and receive recognition throughout the store or chain.
Retail managers receive typical benefits and, in some cases, stock options. In addition, retail managers generally are able to buy their store's merchandise at a discount.
Retail supervisors and managers serve customers, supervise workers, and direct and coordinate the operations of an establishment. Others with similar responsibilities include managers in wholesale trade, hotels, banks, hospitals, law firms, and a wide range of other industries.
Information on employment opportunities for retail managers may be obtained from the employment offices of various retail establishments, or State employment service offices.
General information on management careers in retail establishments is available from:
National Retail Federation, 325 Seventh St. NW., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-2802.
Information on management careers in grocery stores, and schools offering related programs, is available from:
Food Marketing Institute, 800 Connecticut Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20006-2701.
Information about management careers and training programs in the motor vehicle dealers industry is available from:
National Automobile Dealers Association, 8400 Westpark Dr., McLean, VA 22102-3591.
Information about management careers in convenience stores is available from:
National Association of Convenience Stores, 1605 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314.
Information about management careers in service stations is available from:
Service Station Dealers of America, 9420 Annapolis Rd., Suite 307, Lanham, MD 20706.
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