Retail Buyer Degree Program Information

Retail buyers are professional shoppers who determine what is stocked on the shelves of retail stores. A retail buyer analyzes market trends and consumer behavior in order to select the products that are sold in retail stores. While a high school diploma could be sufficient for some positions, employers often prefer prospective buyers who have earned a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

A few different 4-year bachelor's programs can prepare graduates for careers as entry-level retail buyers, including a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Retail Management and Merchandising and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Marketing and Management. Students learn the basics of marketing, trend forecasting and how to analyze consumer behavior. Strong oral and written communication skills are emphasized. Specific concentration options are often available to help prepare graduates for the unique demands of a particular industry, such as fashion or food buying.

  • Program Levels in Retail Buying: Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Retail Management and Merchandising; Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Marketing and Management
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
  • Program Length: 4 years

Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Retail Management and Merchandising

As with other bachelor's degree programs, a high school diploma or a GED is almost universally required for a BBA program in retail management and merchandising. A current high school transcript, SAT or ACT scores and a minimum high school grade point average are also common admission requirements. A bachelor's degree program in retail management and merchandising generally requires four years of full-time study to complete.

Common coursework includes:

  • Merchandising planning and control
  • Principles of management, principles of marketing, supply chain management
  • Consumer behavior, marketing research
  • Internet marketing and e-commerce
  • Math for business and finance, financial accounting
  • Business and technical writing

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Marketing and Management

Students interested in a career as a retail buyer within the fashion industry need a background or concentration in fashion merchandising or marketing. Students pursing BFAs in Fashion Marketing and Management study the basics of fashion design and production, trend forecasting and global marketing. A solid understanding of production methods and fashion design history helps a retail buyer to select modern and quality garments. Marketing, event planning and public relations are all important aspects of this education as well.

Educational prerequisites will vary according to the institution, but most require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. A minimum grade point average, as well as a minimum ACT or SAT score may also be required for admission. Bachelor's degree programs in fashion marketing and management are generally 4-year programs.

Common core coursework may include:

  • Product development, trend forecasting
  • Principles of global marketing
  • Event planning, brand management
  • Fashion history
  • Textiles
  • Merchandising math, visual merchandising

Popular Career Options

While a retail fashion buyer is a popular career choice for graduates of a fashion marketing and management degree, there are several other career paths available. Other popular career options include:

  • Retail store manager
  • Assistant retail buyer
  • Retail planner
  • Store or boutique owner
  • Visual merchandiser
  • Product developer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a retail or wholesale buyer in May 2014 was $58,190 ( Unfortunately, the BLS noted that job prospects for retail buyers (as well as purchasing agents and buyers) from 2012-2022 were less than ideal, with only 4% growth expected.

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