Accessibility options | A A A | text only

Retail Business

The Job Market



  • Nationally, the retail industry employs around 3 million people, the largest private sector employer in the UK 

  • Retail is worth billions to the economy. Currently, the UK food and grocery market alone is worth over £150bn.

  • Supermarkets and department stores are the largest individual employers. Excluding these, the vast majority of shops have fewer than 5 employees.

  • The retail industry offers many more opportunities than simply store-based jobs. Areas include buying, marketing, administration, human resources, information technology and marketing. Staff in these sectors are often based in a company’s head office

  • Headquarters of retail organisations are situated throughout the UK, although some areas of the country, such as the East Midlands, have a particularly high number. 

  • According to Skillsmart Retail, staff turnover within the industry is usually high

  • The highest proportion of retailers in England is in London and the southeast, 

  • For a number of years there has been a decline in retail in small town centres (along with a decline in the number of small retailers). However, town centres in general are still major locations for the retail industry.

  • Other centres include retail warehouse parks (e.g. do-it-yourself outlets, furniture stores), airports e.g. London’s BAA Heathrow Airport has thousands of retail staff and shopping centres

  • The UK is a major trading nation and, as the global market is expanding, there are increasing opportunities for importers and exporters.

  • There are around 300,000 LGV drivers in the UK. The industry has been affected by the recession and there are currently fewer vacancies for qualified drivers

  • Competition for marketing positions is high. Most enter marketing after gaining related work experience. 

  • Apart from in the distribution sector (where men account for around 7 out of every 10 jobs) women predominate 
  • Contact centres are often sited on business parks outside city and town centres. Some companies base their contact centres abroad so there may be opportunities to work overseas, setting up centres and training local staff.

  • A third of all those who work in the retail sector are below the age of 25 

  • Many retailers are under pressure and many well known companies have been taken over or collapsed in the last few years - generally online sales and discount shops haven't been hit so badly

  • Skills shortages include customer handling and oral communication skills.