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Retail Associate

Average Retail Associate Salary Nationwide

$14.13/hr
$10.02$14.13$19.42

Overview and Basic Information

Overview

Retail associates are everywhere you shop. They help with hard-to-find items, answer questions and, fingers crossed, get you to buy what they’re selling. Retail associates not only help make the sale but also work the cash register to wrap it up. 

You’ll need a lot of patience to make it as a retail sales associate because, unfortunately, you’ll run into your fair share of those, “Let me speak to the manager!” customers. The best sales associates are courteous, friendly and have a very outgoing personality. If you’re not a naturally happy person who likes to work with (a lot of) others, then retail sales is probably not the best job for you.

As a retail associate, you’ve got to know your stuff. If you sell cars, you need to know specifics about each car’s features, your dealership’s financing policy and warranty services. The same goes for people who sell TVs, mattresses and clothes.

Long hours and weekends are the norm for retail associates. And most retail stores are busiest around the holidays in November and December, so you’ll be required to work nights and weekends.

Example retail associate job description

Our busy women’s clothing store is looking for a retail associate who enjoys working with the public and wants to build a professional sales career. The retail associate will provide clothing recommendations, answer guests’ questions and sell coordinating items and accessories. The ideal candidate has experience in a retail shop and dedication to providing exceptional customer service.

Typical duties include:

  • Greet customers as they enter the store 

  • Develop solutions for guests by listening to their needs and recommending the best clothing and accessories

  • Use our point-of-sale system to take payments or returns from guests

  • Maintain customer preference records

  • Help maintain the stock room

  • Set up merchandise displays on the sales floor

  • Work with other team members to keep the sales floor area clean and organized at all times

Requirements:

  • High school diploma or GED required

  • At least 2 years customer service experience

  • Familiarity with women’s fashion trends

  • Ability to work well on a team

  • Must meet all sales goals

  • Must be able to work evenings, weekends and holidays

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

  • Courteous and outgoing personality

  • Must be comfortable standing for long periods of time

Common questions about retail associate jobs

How much does a retail associate make?

According to Payscale, the average retail associate makes about $10.50 an hour. This hourly rate generally applies to retail sales associates who work at “big box” stores such as Walmart or Best Buy. 

When a salesperson gets into selling cars or high-end items, they’ll often get a commission on what they sell. That means they earn a percentage of the sales cost of the item. Things can get pretty tricky here so it’s important to pay attention to the job description. If it says something like, “base + commission,” that means you’ll get a salary plus a percentage of what you sell every month. If the description reads, “commission only,” you need to reaallllly think about how good a salesperson you are. “Commission only” means you don’t get a salary. You’ll be paid on how much you sell every month. If you have a bad month and don’t sell anything, guess what? No pay. So it’s important to be sure of your sales ability before going for a “commission only” job. 

What are the education requirements?

At the bare minimum, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. If you want to go for a management position, the business might require a college degree in business management. A lot of retailers also offer additional on-the-job training to improve employee sales success. 

Career paths for retail associates

A retail associate has a lot of options for a career. If you want to stay in retail, you can work your way up from sales associate to management and then on to the corporate team. And once you’ve worked in retail, you can take what you’ve learned and apply it to non-retail sales. Think about it—every company that has a product or service needs people to sell it. If you work hard and continue to learn more about the sales process, you can land a job at a major company selling their goods or services. If you’re good, you can easily make $100,000 a year or more.   

The future of retail associates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall job opportunities for retail associates are predicted to only rise 2% from 2016-26. The slow pace is mostly due to the increase in online sales. 

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