How much will I earn in retail, buying and fashion?
There are various routes into the retail industry and they all offer different levels of salary. Find out what you could earn and how your salary could grow.
How much can I earn on an apprenticeship in retail?
Salaries for apprenticeships vary from retailer to retailer and will also be affected by what role you take on. Apprentices tend to be paid significantly less than graduates but will not gain student debt. However, they may not be paid as much as a graduate immediately following their apprenticeship: a lot of graduate schemes are aimed at training future managers but not all apprenticeship roles lead to management.
Examples of level 4 (higher) apprenticeships, through which you gain a qualification equivalent to a foundation degree or HND, include:
- Arcadia offers a level 4 merchandising apprenticeship in partnership with the Fashion Retail Academy.
- John Lewis Partnership runs an 18-month long level 4 retail manager apprenticeship scheme.
- Morrisons offers a two-year CIMA finance apprenticeship during which apprentices will work towards a diploma in business accounting practice.
- Tesco runs a commercial apprenticeship that gives training in buying and merchandising on a two-year course with a £20,000 salary. It also has a level 4 F&F apprenticeship in fashion buying and merchandising at £20,000.
The vast majority of retail apprenticeships are level 3 (advanced) or level 2 (intermediate). Through level 3 apprenticeships you gain qualifications equivalent to A levels and level 2 apprenticeships give you qualifications equivalent to GCSEs.
Some of the level 3 and level 2 apprenticeships pay close to the minimum wage for apprentices of £3.40 an hour (from October 2016), although there are schemes that pay significantly more.
Example of a level 3 apprenticeship:
- Aldi’s stores apprenticeship is a three-year programme offering £5.52 per hour (£165 a week) in the first year, £7.00 in the second and £8.02 in the third. Those who successfully complete their apprenticeship will have the opportunity to take on a permanent role in the company.
- Thomson's retail apprenticeship is a two-year programme offering £150 a week and there are opportunities for permanent positions at the end of the apprenticeship.
How much can I earn on a sponsored degree?
Sponsorship is when you work for the retailer while it pays for your degree course. You’ll study for one day a week or take a period of study leave from work. Degree sponsorship is not common in the retail industry, but Morrisons runs a sponsored degree that is split into manufacturing, corporate, logistics, retail and supply chain.
What salaries are offered by graduate schemes in retail?
Salaries for graduates vary widely. Here is a general overview of what you can expect from different retailers, based on data collected by our graduate careers site TARGETjobs in 2017:
- Aldi: area manager graduate programme – £42,000 rising to £73,450 after four years.
- Boots: retail management talent programme, supply chain graduate programme, global commercial programme and operations programme – all pay £25,000.
- Halfords: retail management scheme, and commercial scheme (buying, marketing and digital) – £24,000.
- John Lewis Partnership: graduate leadership scheme and graduate technology scheme – £29,000.
- Lidl: graduate trainee manager – £40,000 with the potential to earn up to £70,000. Graduate buying scheme – £36,000, graduate supply chain trainee scheme – £32,000, and graduate management development programme – £36,000.
- Majestic Wine: trainee manager – £19,305–£21,996.
- Marks & Spencer: retail management graduate programme – £24,000. Buying, food buying, and merchandising graduate programmes – £23,500. IT graduate programmes – £25,500–£28,000. Logistics and supply chain programme – £25,500.
- McDonald’s: management development programme – £21,500–£24,500.
- TK Maxx: merchandising and buying programme, and business technology (European programme) – £25,000.
Junior fashion design jobs tend to pay between £15,000 and £25,000, while a starting role in visual merchandising typically pays between £12,000 and £20,000.
What can I earn as an experienced professional?
Earning potential varies as you move up the career ladder. Examples of average salaries, courtesy of Reed, include
- Buyer – £34,294; senior buyer – £42,618.
- Fashion designer – £35,855.
- Logistics – £30,244; warehouse supervisor – £25,133; warehouse manager – £36,124.
- Merchandiser: £33,152.
- Area manager – £44,070.
What benefits and perks does the retail industry offer?
Benefits usually provided by retailers include staff discounts (sometimes upwards of 20%), further discounts with selected companies, pensions and health schemes. Some big retailers give interest-free loans to help pay for any commuting costs. A number of retailers may also provide benefits that you might not find elsewhere in the retail industry: for example, Aldi gives those on its area management graduate programme an Audi A4, Lidl runs a sabbatical scheme (where you are given an extended period of leave from your job) and Ikea gives an end-of-year present to employees as a thank you for their work.