10 Biggest Myths About Retail Workers

November 25, 2013 | | Alternet |

Myth 1: Most retail workers are teenagers or young adults who do not really need the money

Reality: The average age of a retail worker is  37 years old (pdf), and more than half of year-round retail workers  contribute a significant portion (pdf) of their family's total income. For example, researchers found that  a third (pdf) of New York City retail workers support at least one dependent.

Myth 2: Retail workers are unskilled

Reality28% of retail workers (pdf) have completed some college, and 15% have a bachelor's degree or higher. Employers have deskilled a lot of the work, but still report in surveys that they want employees with both soft and hard skills, including product knowledge, ability to relate to customers, and increasingly, familiarity with technology for assisting with online sales.

Myth 3: Retail workers may earn a low wage, but most of them are only doing the job temporarily until they move up to higher level jobs or other careers

Reality: While the  retail industry has higher turnover than many industries, most retail workers stay in the industry – which means that the turnover is high for individual employers, particularly those that pay low wages and treat workers poorly. In a  large national survey (pdf), about half of retail respondents said they were not very likely to try to change employers in the next year. Workers do not lack a work ethic or commitment to retail, but are often forced to look for another job that provides more hours or more predictable schedules.

Myth 4: Retail work is meant to be just an entry-level job

Reality: Over  15 million people work in the retail sector, and that number is expected to grow, as retail sales worker occupations make-up the second largest job growth projections in the country, after food preparation occupations. More than 1 out of every 10 jobs in the country is in retail trade, which makes it a major part of our economy. It is unlikely that most retail workers will leave the sector for other work.