6 Misconceptions About Retail Work

If you have been keeping a tab on what’s going on in the world of retail, there’s a good chance that you have come across several things that don’t seem to add up. Yes, there’s a slew of misconceptions and myths about retail, especially retail employees, that have been doing rounds for a long time now. Today, we are going to debunk 6 most common misconceptions and unfounded myths about working in the retail industry.

Misconception #1: Most Retail Employees Are Young Adults or Teenagers Who Don’t Actually Need Money

That’s far-fetched considering that retail industry accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in the US. According to a report by Families & Work, the average age of a retail employee is surprisingly 37 years old. What’s more — over 50% of retail employees are the bread-winners in their households. Another research study revealed that nearly one-third of retail workers in the sprawling NYC metro support at least 1 other person (dependent).

Misconception #2: Most Retail Workers Prefer to Work Part-Time

While there’s some nugget of truth in that, that’s not always the reality for most retail workers. It so happens that most people who work in the retail sector are either full-time students or those people who can afford to work part-time. However, a recent survey showed that more than 13% of part-time retail workers would be willing to go full-time if given a chance. Unfortunately, it’s not up to them, but the managers are the one who set the work hours.

Misconception #3: Most Retail Employees are Lazy and Unskilled

We should probably blame popular media portrayal of retail space for this. This misconception couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, nearly 15% of retail workers have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) and further 28% have completed some college. You see, most independent retailers are looking for individuals with strong people skills, product knowledge, and, above all, familiarity with technologies that streamline in-store and online shopping experience.

Misconception #4: There are No Career Growth Opportunities in Retail

This is, more or less, related to #3. The truth is, as independent retailers expand, they will require more resources and unique skill sets to meet increased consumer demand and support the business. As such, retail companies are constantly promoting in-house and offer immense growth opportunities for both existing and future hires.

Misconception #5: Retail Work is Good for Entry-level Opportunities Only

More than a whopping 15 million individuals work in the retail industry, and recent stats show that the number will continue to consistently grow for the next two decades or so. It’s not likely that retail workers are going to seek employment elsewhere. In reality, most retailers often fill higher positions by hiring internally.

Misconception #6: Raising Retail Workers’ Wages Would be a Huge Burden on the Consumer

A raft of recent studies reveals that increasing the wages for retail workers doesn’t necessarily translate to significant tag-price increments. Raising the hourly wage for Walmart employees to $12 will only translate to a 46-cent increase in what the consumer will pay. Even better, the retailers can cover the costs of wage increases in myriads of other ways that won’t affect on-aisle prices. For one, they can cut down on commissions and salaries they shell out to CEOs and executives.