Career Information for a Degree in Retail Management and Merchandising

Oct 07, 2019

Retail management and merchandising is generally a major that discusses management and marketing strategies for the retail industry. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some job options for graduates.

With a degree in retail management and merchandising, it's possible to pursue a career in the retail field. Purchasing managers, merchandisers, and retail store managers are all possible job titles, and these professionals are required to have at least a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

Undergraduate degree programs are available in retail merchandising and management, retail management and fashion merchandising, or fashion merchandise management. The curriculum covers topics such as retail and business, international business, store management, promotions, e-business, financial accounting, and textiles. Concentration areas may include buying and product management, fashion marketing, or store operations management. Master's degree programs are also available in this field, but many jobs are attainable with just a bachelor's degree.

Career Titles Retail Store Manager Merchandiser Purchasing Manager
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% increase for all sales managers 7% decrease for all buyers and purchasing agents 4% increase for all purchasing managers
Median Salary (2019)** $47,737 $43,393 for retail merchandisers $66,029

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Career Options

Retail managers oversee a store's operations and staff, while merchandisers use visual design strategies to improve the sales of products, and purchasing managers buy retail products that will be sold in stores. Most management positions in retail require candidates to hold bachelor's degrees, as well as possessing related work experience.

Retail Store Manager

A retail store manager is responsible for ensuring that a store operates efficiently and profitably and that its employees perform adequately. They are responsible for a store's sales and employee schedule, resolving problems that arise in the store and coordinating a store's activities. Some managers are in charge of a single department in a store. Others are identified as department store managers, where they are in charge of an entire store. Retail store managers may work at any type of store that sells products; professionals may choose to specialize by working at specific locations, such as electronics retailers, beauty supply shops, or clothing stores.


Merchandisers, sometimes called merchandise managers, are responsible for choosing looks and trends and matching colors for a product. They may supervise the purchase of products, but they're mainly concerned with the marketing of merchandise. Sometimes, they oversee a group of buyers or department managers.

Purchasing Manager

These professionals work for retail stores and chains. They analyze customer spending habits and make forecasts about what types of products customers are more likely to purchase. They then start to buy those products from wholesale distributors. Purchasing managers try to get the best deals possible, because profits are significantly affected by how much purchasing managers pay wholesalers for each unit of product.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that open positions for sales managers in general would increase by 5% during the 2018-2028 decade. Projections for the same decade by the BLS show that new and open positions for purchasing managers would increase by 4%, while opportunities for buyers and purchasing agents would decline at a rate of 7%.

According to September 2019 data from, retail store managers earned a median annual salary of $47,737, and the salary range for most professionals in this career was listed as $32,000 - $70,000. Also in 2019, reported that the annual median salary for retail merchandisers was $43,393, and purchasing managers earned a median salary of $66,029.

Although it's possible to pursue a master's degree in retail management and merchandising, most careers in this field can be obtained with a bachelor's degree in this discipline or a related field. Purchasing managers determine what products to sell in the stores they represent, while merchandisers focus on marketing the products they sell. Retail store managers oversee the daily operations of their department or store.

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