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Retail employees

About retail jobs

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Retail supports more than 42 million jobs

From the part-time sales associate at a local store on Main Street to an app-developer for a major retailer, the retail industry directly employs 29 million Americans, making it the largest private sector-employer in the economy. These jobs aren’t just behind a cash register. In fact, 45 percent of retail employees do not work in a sales position.

Retail supports 1 in 4 American jobs

Anyone whose job results in a consumer product – from those who supply the raw materials to factory workers to the truck drivers who deliver goods to stores – counts on retail for their livelihood. With 3.6 million stores drawing on a vast array of suppliers, retail supports 42 million jobs and represents $2.6 trillion of annual GDP in the United States.

Retail offers good jobs and rewarding careers

Retail employees like their jobs. According to research by Gfk, nearly 8 out of 10 retail store employees say they are satisfied with their current job and say they are “happy working in retail.”

8 out of 10 retail store employees are “happy working in retail”
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Retail employees overwhelmingly like their jobs and most have been promoted.
Did you know?

62 percent of retail store managers say they reached their current position by “moving up the ranks” in the industry, for example starting as a store associate.

Retail provides opportunities to advance

The GfK study also finds that working in retail offers opportunities for advancement. In fact, 6 out of 10 current retail store employees have been promoted and about 9 out of 10 have earned a raise.

Retail offers flexible, part-time work

Retail is an industry of part-time employees (29 percent of retail employees are part-time), providing an option for those who need flexibility, including students pursuing a degree, working parents and teenagers.

Retail employs 17% of part-time workers in the United States.

Retail is driven by consumer demand. Part-time workers allow retailers to meet shoppers’ needs and keep their businesses staffed during busy shopping times. Part-time workers fall typically in the younger and older age categories because the flexible hours fit the needs of many students and semi-retired workers.

Part-time work plays an important role in the U.S. economy. 

  • 75 percent of part-time employees are part-time by choice, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • An NRF Survey found that 37 percent of part-time retail employees say they took a retail job specifically because of the flexibility they needed because they are in school, 21 percent because they work another job and 11 percent needed the flexibility because they are stay-at-home parents.
  • Part-time employment helps boost personal finances. An NRF study found that 21 percent of former part-time employees say their retail job helped them through a tough time financially, 14 percent credit their retail job for giving them a “financial cushion” and 10 percent say their job helped them pay off debt or loans.
Ro's Story
Ro started as a part-time cashier at The Home Depot. Now she’s a regional vice president helping others rise through the ranks.

Retail is the training ground for America’s workforce

Working in retail is an experience many Americans share, and for many of them, retail was their first introduction to the workplace. In fact, six in 10 Americans have worked a retail job, and nearly a third (32 percent) of all first jobs were in retail. The average age for a first job in retail is just 16.

Did you know?

Retail employs one in four of America’s working teenagers.

Working in retail prepares young people for their next professional opportunity. In a recent study, NRF found that hiring managers across industries overwhelmingly believe that retail experience develops the skills and traits they seek in prospective job candidates and that these skills are readily transferable across industry sectors and should be leveraged throughout any professional’s career.

  • 71 percent of hiring managers say that retail provides its employees foundational skills and experience that are transferable to other industries and recommend that employees include retail experience on their resumes.
  • 80 percent of hiring managers state that the skills and traits that are most important to them are the same skills and traits that more than eight in 10 current retail employees say they use regularly.
Lynn's Story
Love for retail can catch people by surprise. Lynn started as a part-time associate as a teenager. Now he’s vice president of operations at Tractor Supply Company.
Retail's Impact
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Find out how the retail industry impacts jobs, income and GDP in your state. View the map and check out the data.