If you're considering employment in the world of retail, it's always smart to first step back and consider all the different components of this type of career. While working in retail undeniably has its benefits, it also has some possible disadvantages, just as with jobs in any other field. Long weekend hours are just one example.
Low Pay and Benefits
Comparatively low pay is common in retail, especially for those just starting out. This is especially true for sales associate positions, but also can apply to managers and individuals working in corporate retail settings. Benefits such as health insurance are also frequently unavailable to workers in retail. When health insurance isn't an option, retail workers often have to look to government assistance for access to health care. It isn't unheard of for retail workers to simply not be able to keep up with the cost of living in general.
If you're thinking about going into retail because you appreciate shopping and new products, think carefully about your decision. While you might indeed get to see cool new inventory before it gets to the rest of the public, the requirements of the job go a lot deeper than that. Retailing, like most other jobs, has its fair share of routine work, whether it's related to training brand new employees, answering telephones or handling store returns.
Working in retail can often lead to an inconvenient lifestyle that can make scheduling time for family and social life difficult. If your closest pal works at a dental office, you might find yourself envying her straightforward schedule. Working in retail often involves weekends, nights, and holidays.
Lack of Job Security
Lack of job security is an issue that many retail workers face every day, no matter what time of year it is. Year-end sales reviews can be major stress factors to retail workers, often leading to closings of individual stores. When companies determine that their numerous retailers are negatively affecting their profit potentials, they frequently downsize. This can lead to potential layoffs.
Dissatisfied customers can be a major source of frustration and angst. Patience and a cool head are needed in retailing. Remember, the customers are always right, and your job is to keep them happy -- or to successfully remedy a problematic situation.
Unpredictable Work Flow
Retail involves a lot of unpredictable work days. On sluggish days, you might find yourself bored with absolutely nothing to do, keeping your eye fixed nonstop on the clock. On busy days, you might find that you're being pulled in 20 different directions -- from the customers, your coworkers and higher-ups. The goal in retail is to be able to adapt to both kinds of working environments -- and still maintain your sanity and admirable can-do spirit.
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- Crain's New York Business: Retail Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet
- USA Today: Retailers That Will Close the Most Stores
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