Generally, fashion merchandising is any activity associated with the development, purchasing and selling of merchandise. So, the term “fashion merchandiser” can mean different things to different people at different enterprises. With a designer, a merchandiser might be responsible for procuring the best fabric at the best price. At a retailer, a merchandiser could be charged with buying products to stock the shelves, marketing the merchandise to consumers or even deciding to display the merchandise in the store. Not surprisingly, pay varies greatly by role.
When most people hear the word “fashion merchandiser,” they likely think of a buyer. Buyers predict upcoming fashion trends, and then purchase merchandise based on these forecasts. In 2012, the average buyer earned $57,420 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But a survey by Crandall & Associates, a national recruiter, found that salaries started out at closer to $49,600 a year as of 2011.
Clothing manufacturers, on the other hand, rely on merchandisers to select fabrics and textiles for future products. Sometimes referred to as purchasing managers, they attend trade shows, negotiate supplier contracts and even discuss shipping arrangements with distributors. In the apparel industry, these merchandising professionals averaged $73,240 a year, reports the BLS. Entry-level positions don’t command as high of a paycheck, earning closer to $57,360 annually.
Some fashion merchandisers are responsible for designing marketing campaigns for either the manufacturer or the retailer. As of 2011, those in charge of B2B marketing via catalog started out at $57,600, while B2C catalog merchandisers started out at $63,700 a year, notes Crandall & Associates. Outside of catalogs, B2B marketers earned starting salaries of $56,900 and B2C marketers earned starting salaries of $57,300 annually.
At some retailers, a fashion merchandiser is someone who designs commercial displays, such as those you’d see in store windows or within the shop itself. As of 2012, salaries averaged at $28,860, according to the BLS. But starting salaries would be closer to $18,000 a year.
- Fashion Schools: Fashion Merchandising – Career Profile
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products
- Crandall & Associates: 2011 National Salary Guide
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Purchasing Managers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Data for Occupations Not Covered in Detail
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Purchasing Managers, Buyers and Purchasing Agents
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