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What Are the Things I Need to Know as a Retail Assistant Manager?

by Neil Kokemuller, studioD

Retail assistant managers work in general merchandise stores, supermarkets and convenience stores. They perform an array of front line manager duties under the supervision of a store manager or general manager. Pay varies by role and workplace. Many retail assistant managers earn an hourly wage, often ranging from $10 to $15 as of 2013. Full-time positions may also include benefits. Understanding the role of an assistant manager helps in assessing your potential for success in this job.


The role of a typical assistant manager balances supervisory and customer-facing responsibilities. Assistant managers often oversee the tasks and activities of sales and service employees during their shifts. But this role is usually very hands-on. This means that you need to multitask between helping customers and directing the work of other front line employees. Assistants often have administrative responsibilities, such as making deposits, ordering supplies and inventory, merchandising and carrying out leadership duties delegated by the manager.

Pros and Cons

Being an assistant manager has pros and cons relative to roles of store managers and front line workers. You have some authority, but employees may view you as closer to them than the store manager. Hours can vary. You may work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift, but many assistants take on later shifts, from around 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. This schedule allows the manager to cover leadership responsibilities during the day and have the assistant in charge at night. This work shift may not be for you if you have family responsibilities or prefer an active evening social life.

Potential for Mediation

Recognize the potential that you can get caught in the middle as a retail assistant. As an assistant, you work for a store manager, but you supervise front line employees. Many front line employees don't feel comfortable going to a store manager, especially one they don't see much, with concerns or complaints. Thus, they may rely on the assistant as a sounding board or even a potential aid in changing policies, procedures or responsibilities. Successful assistants usually walk the fine line of respecting the authority of a manager yet showing consideration for the concerns of workers.


In many cases, assistant retail managers have upward as well as horizontal mobility. Larger retailers may have assistant managers in various store locations or departments. If you perform well, you might ask for a horizontal transfer to a preferred location or department. The position is also a common stepping stone to a store manager or general manager position. Retailers often promote employees within by developing them up through management ranks. You might have to complete a management training program along with demonstrating strong leadership abilities.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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