The retail industry is unique in that a company will have not only multiple branches, but the working conditions of those branches can vary hugely depending on whether they are located on a high street, a shopping centre, out of town, in a concession within a department store, abroad or even online. Here, we take a brief overview at working in the various locations open to retailers.
Working in retail, you have a lot of choice open to you, as you’d expect in an industry that employs three million people and contributes to 25% of the GDP of the country including retail sales and purchases. Not only do you have a choice over which sector, which company within that sector and the location in which you work, but you can decide between the various retail locations in which those stores are situated.
Despite the changes it has gone through in recent times, the high street is still a force to be reckoned with in UK retail. It varies from small towns to some of the most well known streets in the world.
It’s an incredible figure, but almost 50,000 people work on Oxford Street. At one and a half miles long it is the busiest shopping street in Europe, attracting 200 million shoppers every year from all over the world.
The government has announced that it will pump £10 million into high streets but some have said that this isn’t enough and that harder-hitting measures are needed; although a recent study said that the high street was still holding its own despite several knocks over the past few years.
Rather than being a shopping destination, like a mall, the high street tends to feature shoppers who are going about their daily necessities in a more relaxed manner. This is reflected in the retail work environment, where typically you will be working within a smaller team.
Travelling to and from work is usually easy and hours tend to be pretty standard for store employees.
Typical outlets: Supermarkets, fashion chains, travel agents, budget retailers, independents, restaurants, banks and pubs.
Out of town retail is an ever-changing market with its own rules. From its birth in the eighties, out of town retailing has grown as more retailers move out of the high street. According to a report last year, B&Q increased its out of town presence, taking the most space. Home and garden chain The Range was next, followed by budget retailers B&M, Poundworld and Home Bargains.
In short, where once the out of town retail park catered to companies that needed the space for warehouse or parking facilities, more traditional high street retailers are now taking advantage of the ease of access, free parking and lower rents.
In terms of working in an out of town location, salaries will tend to be higher, reflecting a higher turnover of the store and some store management salaries may well be on a par with area or regional managers’ salaries elsewhere.
Typical outlets: Technology chains, DIY retailers, home and garden, fashion chains, larger supermarkets and budget retailers.
The nature of shopping centres, as with most retail locations, has evolved over the years. From the out of town malls located on former industrial sites, shopping centres are now becoming more and more a part of the future of the UK’s town centres. Some of the newer malls have generated considerable redevelopment for city centres, bringing in more shoppers and new life to the area when economic times were tough.
Working in a shopping centre will entail longer opening hours, but the rewards are high, with an energetic atmosphere in general and a pleasant working environment surrounded by an exciting mix of stores.
Typical outlets: Fashion chains, jewellery and accessory retailers, luxury goods, department stores, specialist retailers and restaurants.
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