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The retail industry is quite simply the business built around selling physical goods to people, and it’s at the heart of British society. The retail industry employs around three million people in the UK –about 11% of the workforce. It’s also an increasingly global business, providing international opportunities and the prospect of travel.

A common misconception is that working in retail involves working on a shop front. In actual fact, a career in retail could involve a huge range of different careers, from the technical to the artistic, including management, HR, product development, visual merchandising, finance, IT, store operations and logistics. Working in retail, you could become a buyer for a high-end fashion store, or finance director for a multi-million pound global corporation – the choice is yours! Take a look at our career opportunities in retail page to explore your options.


FMCG refers specifically to the business of selling products that have a high turnover, for example groceries. FMCGs may be perishable items, like food, but not necessarily – toiletries are also FMCGs, because they are low-priced items that people buy regularly.

Profit margins are often quite small on FMCGs, but they are sold in high quantities, meaning they can be highly profitable overall. Logistics is an important part of the FMCG industry, as efficient distribution is key to maintaining a high turnover and generating profits.

Retail is an attractive industry for graduates, as many employers offer graduate schemes. These provide an opportunity to train and earn at the same time –often whilst getting a glimpse of many different departments and aspects of a business before making your mind up about where you want to stay.

Many household names offer retail graduate schemes, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Debenhams and Waterstones, and these schemes often involve earning well over the average for new graduates.

Retail Facts

  • There are 284,490 retail outlets in the UK
  •  In 2011, UK retail sales were over £303 billion.
  • Employment is rising in the sector – there were 4,074 more jobs in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in the previous year.
  • Online sales account for about 9% of the industry (£27 billion).
Retail facts from the British Retail Consortium website.
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