The High Street – Dead and Buried?

Is Retail Still a Viable Career?

From a career perspective, is retail still a viable option, or should you be looking at other industries in which to develop your career? My answer is retail (non-online) will survive, and it’s an excellent career to enter. Why do I say this?

First of all, why is retail so crucial to the UK economy. Because it’s a massive contributor to UK PLC, both concerning employment and economic activity.

Figures for 2018

retail stats 2018

Figures from Retail Economics

It’s pretty obvious there’s still a lot of life left in retail. But it would be silly to pretend all is well on the high street at the moment.

Below are just some of the more prominent retail names that have disappeared from our high streets during 2019.

  • Bon Marché
  • Mothercare
  • Office outlet (formally Staples)
  • Oddbins
  • LK Bennett

Furthermore, Debenhams and House of Fraser will be closing stores and shedding even further jobs during 2020. And literally within the first couple of weeks of this year Beales department stores with 22 outlets across the country has also gone into liquidation.

There’s no doubt there are problems, and the government have recognised this and plan to pump millions into the high street in coming years. But will this be a waste of money or can things be saved? Of course, it can, and it needs to be.


Why is retail so important?

Below I’ve listed five reasons why retail is so important to our society.

why is retail so important infographic

Allows advancement in a way that would not be possible in many professions, e.g. law, accountancy etc.
Retail is an excellent way for those with few qualifications to progress in a career based on their own efforts rather than having to have a degree. This doesn’t mean qualifications are required, but internal schemes run by larger retailers provide opportunities for those with ambition.

Provides a focal point for our town and city centres – It brings people together.
Retail is the lifeblood for many of our towns and city centres. Retail provides the draw that brings in people to shop who then go onto spending money on other areas such as leisure activities for example.

Large employer of people across the economic spectrum.
In many areas of the UK, retail is a significant employer despite its difficulties. The wages it provides supports other aspects of the local employment.

Cut’s down on waste.
It’s been recently noted just how much of what we buy online gets returned. The online fashion retailer ASOS recently suffered a profit warning because it said so many products that had been purchased ending up being returned. Try before you buy cuts down on this problem.

It’s a significant contributor to the overall economic wellbeing of our country.
Although declining in importance as a major contributor to overall economic activity, it is still a significant part of the commercial landscape.

Retail will reinvent itself. Many town centres are already beginning to do this by supporting independent retailers, developing social spaces, encouraging events and leisure activities such as indoor golf, escape rooms, bowling etc. It will take time, but it is possible.

Plus, some retailers seem to be flying high. Primark, Zara, JD Sports, Next and the ever-expanding German imports of Aldi and Lidl are just some examples of what can be achieved when retailers get things right.


Is retail for you?

So, that’s why retail will survive and why it’s still an excellent career for those who are ambitious and prepared to put up with hard (physical) work and unsocial hours. Chris Dawson of the Range, Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and Sir Charles Dunstone who originally set up Car Phone Warehouse are all examples of people who have made it in retail starting with very little.

Plus, the specific careers on offer in retail are incredibly varied and include management, accountancy, design, legal, estates, logistics and PR. Being on the shop floor is not the be all and end all of working in this industry.

Do you think you’d be interested in retail? Unsure of what career would suit you? Then try Career Fancy and let’s see how we can help you. See here for more information

Photo by Alexandre Godreau on Unsplash

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