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The Joy of Retail

posted by Alexis Michaelides

In my previous post, I said that the worlds of sports and fashion are not mutually exclusive.  That is because both realms are part of retailing.

Last month I attended the National Retail Federation’s 101st Annual Convention & Expo, otherwise known as Retail’s BIG Show. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association, and the BIG show is its biggest event.

Over its 4 days, the event attracts some of the most prominent names in retail (both corporations and executives) and is a great opportunity for networking and education, whether you’re a college student or an industry veteran.

One of the most interesting facts that I learned that week was that one of four jobs in America is directly affected by retail.  According to the NRF, anyone whose job involves a consumer product relies on retail for their livelihood—everyone from designers to factory workers to truck drivers who deliver goods to the salespeople who offer the products to consumers. Overall, retail supports nearly 42 million jobs in the United States, and retail is the largest single-sector contributor to our nation’s economy. Not surprisingly, retail is a significant indicator of the health of the economy in crucial areas such as job growth and consumer spending.

To many of us, working retail has never seemed glamorous. Most, if not all of us, have worked long, tiring hours on a sales floor in Work Project 1. In 4 years at LIM College, I can’t say that I’ve heard many classmates say that their post-graduation plans included working retail.

But although we may not say so, given that we are all fashion merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing, and management majors, nearly all of us will be employed by the retail industry whether we’re working in apparel, sporting goods, automobiles, or food.

Careers in retail are not truly limiting; in fact, career opportunities in retail are as diverse as the industry itself. Here are parts of the retail industry that are not always on everyone’s radar, and what the NRF has to say about them:

Marketing/Advertising: Be creative and strategic in developing plans for ads, social-networking, and everything related that world.

Store Operations: Oversee operations and profits in a single company across a district or region

Loss Prevention: Use your eye for detail to safeguard company assets

Store Management: Use your people skills and business savvy

Finance: Be at the center of any company’s decision-making and plans as well as its operations. Develop the maximum of transferable skills that will be useful in any industry.

Human Resources: Recruit, hire, and train

IT and eCommerce: Support business as ever-changing technology pushes it forward

Sales and Sales-Related: Communicate product offerings and interact with the consumer

Distribution, Logistics, Supply Chain Management: Manage movement of product worldwide

Merchandise Buying/Planning: Develop and/or source product, plan sales, and drive profitability

Entrepreneurship: Call the shots. Single, independent, and privately-owned retail businesses account for 95% of the retail industry.

The word retail may make the selling-floor come to mind, but the industry goes far beyond that to offer many other well-paying and enjoyable jobs. 

For additional perspectives on retail careers, check out: Go Retail!,

If you’d like to get more involved in retail as a student, as I have, join LIM College’s Student Association of the National Retail Federation. Contact Professor Marla Greene at for more information.

-- Alexis Michaelides

Topics: fashion industry, fashion merchandising, fashion careers