Sales & marketing

Retail buyer

Retail buyers choose products for shops to sell.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £70,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

5%
Future employment

There will be 5% more Retail buyer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You may work for high street retailers, mail order companies or online sellers. You'll be responsible for one area like fashion, cosmetics, DIY or electronics.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • analysing and forecasting trends from consumer data
  • attending trade fairs to find new products
  • managing product quality and getting customer feedback
  • negotiating prices, orders and delivery dates
  • presenting collections to senior managers
  • tracking sales figures, managing stock levels and keeping to budgets
  • checking and reacting to competitor activities
  • adapting quickly to changing consumer behaviour

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • a graduate training scheme

College

You could do a course at college to get some of the skills needed to work in retail. Examples are:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Retail Operations
  • Level 2 Diploma in Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills

A course like this may help you to get your first job. You could then move into buying as your experience grows.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You might start your career with a retail team leader advanced apprenticeship or retail manager higher apprenticeship before moving into the buying side.

You could also apply to do a buying and merchandising assistant higher or degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent qualifications, for a higher or a degree apprenticeship

Work

You can start as an assistant buyer and go on to become a junior buyer and work your way up. To go straight into a buying role, you'll usually need a qualification in retail or business.

It's possible to get experience in retail on the shop-floor, in visual merchandising, or as an admin assistant in a buyer's office. You can then spend time learning, doing training and getting qualifications on the job.

Other routes

Some companies in fashion retail offer training schemes specifically for buyers. These tend to be aimed at graduates. Other types of retailers offer general store management training schemes with the option to specialise in buying later on.

£18,000 to £70,000

Starter salary: £18,000 to £30,000

Experienced salary: £35,000 to £40,000

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

You'll usually work 35 to 40 hours, Monday to Friday, although tight deadlines can often mean working late.

You'll spend most of your time in an office, usually the head office of your organisation. You may go out to visit stores or spend time away to meet suppliers and attend trade fairs in the UK and abroad.

With experience and training you could become a senior buyer, buying controller or head of buying. You could also move into product management, marketing or merchandising.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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