What Does a Retail Store Manager Do? (Plus Salary)
Updated August 31, 2023
The image shows a flow chart of career paths in retail. One section highlights in-store roles and the other shows corporate roles. Each position is in its own box and the average salary is underneath. The headline says, "Retail career paths you can pursue (with salaries)
The subhead says, "There is a wide range of career opportunities available in the retail industry."
The path starts on the left and connects each position with a line. The positions are:
$46,097 / year
Assistant Store Manager
Then the titles split into three sections to designate three different career paths. The top section says, "In-store roles," The positions on this career path are: Store Manager/ Supervisor $54,512 / year
General Manager $61,334 / year
Area or Regional Manager $84,316 / year
The two other career paths are under the section "Corporate roles," the first path says,
Loss Prevention Associate $58,979/year
Loss Prevention Manager $61,928/year
Senior Loss Prevention Manager $67,595/year
The other path is:
Communications Specialist $58,448 / year
Communications Manager $72,505 / year
Communications Director $84,512 / year
A disclaimer on the bottom of the image says, "US salaries reported to Indeed as of August 2023"
A retail store manager oversees a store's operations and employees to ensure staff provides quality customer service to shoppers. If this sounds interesting to you, consider learning more about this career path, including its daily duties and job requirement. Understanding what this role entails may help you determine if this is the right fit for you and your career goals.
In this article, we discuss 'What does a retail store manager do?', including their job requirements, skills needed, work environment, potential earnings, steps to obtain this position and an example job description with potential career alternatives.
What does a retail store manager do?
A retail store manager is a customer service specialist responsible for the daily operations of a retail or department store. Some primary duties of a retail store manager include:
Hire and train new store employees
Manage store inventory levels and order new products as necessary
Facilitate customer returns for damaged products
Supervise the store and ensure all departments in the store function properly
Serve as a resource on store information and policies for customers and employees
Establish sales targets for the sales team
Implement promotions, deals and other strategies to reach the store's sales goals
Requirements to become a retail store manager
Becoming a retail store manager requires specific training and experience, including:
Many employers choose candidates with at least a high school diploma or GED with a strong background in retail and management. Pursuing an associate's or a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, retail management or operations management can help increase their earning potential and allow them to study basic business principles to apply in the workplace.
Even without a degree, aspiring retail store managers can benefit from attending workshops, online courses or professional development programs focused on retail skills, leadership or other relevant areas.
Retail store managers often earn their positions through advancement from a lower-level retail position. Working closely with a retail manager while in an entry-level role can help a candidate learn the basics of managing a retail store. Frequently, retail store managers oversee independent departments of a retail store before taking a position as a store manager.
Some retail organizations offer specialized training programs, workshops or seminars for aspiring store managers to develop leadership and management skills. Additionally, seeking a mentor within the company can benefit prospective store managers. Mentors can provide guidance, insights and real-life examples of how to handle various management situations.
Many companies don't require their retail store managers to obtain specific certifications. Aspiring retail managers may still pursue one because it can increase their earning capacity or make them more competitive in the job market.
For example, the Retail Management Certificate (RMC) is a certificate for retail store managers. It's an accredited business program that candidates can complete in a year. It provides retail store managers with an academic perspective of their role in retail. The certification also gives retail store managers problem-solving and management strategies for the workplace.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Skills needed to become a retail store manager
Retail store managers typically focus on continuous career development and staying up-to-date with retail best practices. Some valuable skills for these managers to master include:
Retail store managers manage every store department and ensure each employee performs well in their position. Leadership abilities help them keep the morale of their store high and the individual departments operating efficiently during busy or challenging times.
A retail store manager frequently uses various communication skills to answer customer and employee questions, resolve conflicts or share vital information. An effective retail store manager adjusts their communication style to the situation and understands how to use verbal and written techniques.
These managers keep their store's operations running well regardless of changing circumstances. Balancing many departments within a store, individual employee schedules, customer communications and inventory orders simultaneously requires organization and time management abilities.
Retail store managers are the primary problem-solvers when challenges arise in the store. Retail store managers use problem-solving and critical thinking skills to expect many outcomes and identify effective solutions. Afterward, they can reflect on their choices and determine where they can improve in the future.
Read more: 14 Effective Problem-Solving Strategies
Retail store managers frequently encounter situations where they mediate disagreements, both between employees and customers. Developing conflict resolution skills helps find amicable solutions that maintain a positive work environment and customer satisfaction.
Given the ever-changing nature of the retail industry, retail store managers are flexible and adapt quickly to new trends, technologies and business strategies. Embracing change can ensure the store stays relevant and competitive in the market.
Retail store managers make crucial decisions daily, impacting store operations, employee performance and customer experiences. Strong decision-making skills, including evaluating options and considering potential consequences, are essential to effective retail management.
Understanding and applying sales techniques can help retail store managers train employees and develop strategies to boost revenue. Successful retail store managers can identify and promote the unique selling points of products and services, leading their team to achieve sales targets.
Retail store managers balance multiple responsibilities, schedules and daily tasks efficiently. Productive time management skills are crucial for prioritizing tasks, delegating responsibilities and ensuring smooth store operations.
A store manager can use their store's retail management software to process shipping orders and receipts. They can also implement employee schedules, adjust store inventory prices and track the store's progress toward its goals.
Additionally, these managers can use technology tools like point-of-sale (POS) systems and inventory management software. Familiarity with these tools and basic knowledge of office software, such as word processing and spreadsheets, is essential for efficient store management.
Numeracy is the ability to make sense of numbers. Retail store managers have strong numeracy skills, like doing basic math, calculating prices, adding discounts and making change for customers. They can also implement their numeracy abilities when taking product inventory, analyzing sales data, assessing store performance and making data-driven decisions to optimize store operations and profitability.
Read more: Numeracy Skills: Definition and Examples
Effective retail store managers use their teamwork skills to manage their department, listen to their team members and help solve challenges together to keep store operations efficient. Retail store managers can also use their teamwork skills to help various departments with tasks if several employees can't come to work.
Store managers have excellent resourcefulness skills to help them with problem-solving and create a pleasant shopping experience for customers. Taking initiative in their departments and implementing creativity, curiosity and confidence in their problem-solving techniques can make these managers more desirable candidates to employers.
Business acumen means retail store managers can combine their business and leadership knowledge with their employer's mission, values and strategies to help create a sustainable and profitable company. It can allow them to decide on new strategies and processes to retain or improve sales and customer satisfaction.
Additionally, understanding retail-specific metrics, such as sales conversion rate, average transaction value and foot traffic, can help these managers develop new strategies with valuable data to back up their reasons.
Retail store manager work environment
Retail store managers work in stores of all sizes and industries. If the company is small, a retail store manager may report to a store owner directly. Retail store managers for larger companies typically report to a corporate upper management team. Skilled retail store managers may transfer between various store locations to help improve operational practices and productivity of locations before hiring a new manager.
Generally, retail store managers work full-time, although some may work part-time, depending on the employer. They often have flexible hours, but their broad range of responsibilities may mean they work long hours during weekends, evenings and holidays, which are also high-traffic times for customers.
Average salary for retail store managers
The national average salary for retail store managers is $53,947 per year. Earnings may vary based on your employer, location, years of experience, education and skills. You may earn higher wages in various cities. For example, a store manager in Los Angeles, California, may earn about $67,397 per year, which is 25% higher than the national average.
In addition to the base salary, some retail store managers might be eligible for bonuses, commissions or profit-sharing options, depending on the company's policies and the store's performance.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.
How to become a retail store manager
Here are six steps to becoming a retail store manager:
1. Earn a high school diploma or an equivalent
You can start an entry-level career in retail without a diploma, but becoming a retail store manager usually requires one. For those without a high school diploma, you can take the GED test to earn a nationally recognized credential equivalent to a high school degree.
2. Work in retail
Consider accepting an entry-level position in a retail store and, if possible, for the company where you're interested in managing. This experience can allow you to practice customer service skills and learn about how a store organizes and sells its products.
3. Seek opportunities for advancement within the company
Show initiative and dedication to your current retail job so they may consider you for internal promotions. Network with store managers and supervisors, express interest in advancement and demonstrate exceptional performance in your role. Internal promotions are common pathways to becoming a retail store manager.
4. Earn a business degree
If you pursue post-secondary education, an associate's or bachelor's degree in a business-related field may make you a competitive candidate for retail store management positions. It can also provide the fundamental knowledge required to manage a retail store effectively. During this time, you may earn your RMC certification.
5. Become a department manager
After you complete your education and start working in retail, you may advance to working as a department manager within a store. This role can help you earn management experience and transition from working at the associate level to having greater responsibilities within the store.
6. Advance to a store manager
If your retail experience is with a larger chain, you may transfer locations to secure a retail store management position. If your retail experience is with a smaller company without many locations, or if you can't find a role to transfer into, you may search for retail store management positions in other stores.
Job description example for a retail store manager
Here's an example of a retail store manager job description:
The MegaMart on Five Mile Road in Livonia, Michigan, is seeking an experienced Retail Store Manager to lead and oversee the daily operations of our store. The retail store manager is responsible for hiring, scheduling, transferring and evaluating the store's employees. This role also schedules and oversees product orders and receiving and implements store strategies, like promotions and product sales, to help the store reach its quarterly sales quotas. As a retail store manager, you report to MegaMart corporate management and communicate the store's status, needs and goals.
The ideal candidate has at least two years of prior management work experience and has strong leadership and interpersonal skills, including familiarity with retail management software and experience in inventory management, product ordering and budget control.
Career growth and advancement opportunities
Retail store managers have various growth and advancement opportunities within the industry and other sectors. Many retail store managers can advance to higher managerial positions, move into retail consultancy roles or transition into other industries using their valuable skills. Your experience managing operations, teams and targets in a fast-paced retail environment allows for numerous career possibilities.
Some directions a retail store manager can take for their career are:
Related careers to retail store management
Here are some alternative jobs related to retail store management:
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