Retail and consumer products

Vast career opportunities await individuals with higher education qualifications as well as training and a flair for sales and customer service.

Retail and consumer products are sold directly to the public and encompass food, furniture, appliances, electronics and household items. There are durable and non-durable retail items which are usually purchased frequently.

Careers in retail and consumer products include sales associates and cashiers directly dealing with customers and merchandise, as well as professionals working behind the scenes. This includes buyers of products and goods from producers, stockers, loss prevention workers, managers and marketing and advertising professionals. There are various types of retail stores such as department stores, mass merchandisers, discount store clubs, grocery stores, specialised merchandise shops and online vendors. There are also local, 'mom-and-pop' stores, however the number of these stores has decreased over the last few decades with the rise of massive retail chains.

Many individuals join the retail and consumer products industry in stocking or sales and cashier roles and work their way up to management positions over time. Those completing bachelors degrees in marketing, business, commerce, management, fashion and design can also find it easier to gain leadership and management roles or provide supporting services in the retail sector.

Individuals interested in careers in retail and consumer products should enjoy working with people, have an interest in fashion, electronics or other retail items and have excellent organisational skills. They should also have good analytical skills evaluating consumer trends and market research. Professionals in retail jobs usually work rotating eight-hour shifts during store hours and may need to spend long periods working on their feet on the store floor.

Related degrees

Related subjects

Professional associations and industry bodies

ARA Retail Institute 

Australian Retailers Association  

Master Grocers Association 

National Associated Retail Traders of Australia (NARTA) 

National Retail Association 

The Australian Sporting Goods Association (ASGA)

Skills and personality

  • Creativity to develop appealing displays and promotions
  • Dedication strategic planning to increase sales and meet goals
  • Enjoy working directly with people and helping them find items of interest
  • Exceptional customer service and sales abilities working with customers
  • Highly organised and able to multi-task performing different tasks checking out customers and restocking merchandise
  • Knowledge of merchandise and industry such as fashion, electronics and furniture
  • Leadership abilities managing staff and ensuring proper set up of goods and merchandise
  • Organisation and coordination skills stocking products and goods
  • Research and evaluation abilities assessing market prices and consumer trends