Working as a Retail Clerk

What Does a Retail Clerk Do

Retail sales workers include both those who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and cars, (called retail salespersons) and those who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts (called parts salespersons). Both types of workers help customers find the products they want and process customers’ payments.

Duties

Retail sales workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and offer them assistance
  • Recommend merchandise based on customers’ wants and needs
  • Explain the use and benefit of merchandise to customers
  • Answer customers’ questions
  • Show how merchandise works, if applicable
  • Add up customers’ total purchases and accept payment
  • Inform customers about current sales, promotions, and policies about payments and exchanges

The following are examples of types of retail sales workers:

Retail salespersons work in stores where they sell goods, such as books, cars, clothing, cosmetics, electronics, furniture, lumber, plants, shoes, and many other types of merchandise.

In addition to helping customers find and select items to buy, many retail salespersons process the payment for the sale, which typically involves operating cash registers.

After taking payment for the purchases, retail salespersons may bag or package the purchases.

Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This includes counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. They may also make deposits at a cash office.

For information about other workers who receive and disburse money, see the profile on cashiers.

In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.

For some retail sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail sales workers need special knowledge or skills. For example, those who sell cars must be able to explain the features of various models, manufacturers’ specifications, different types of options on the car, financing available, and the details of associated warranties.

In addition, retail sales workers must recognize security risks and thefts and understand their organization’s procedures for handling thefts—procedures that may include notifying security guards or calling police.

Parts salespersons sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts. Most work in either automotive parts stores or automobile dealerships. They take customers’ orders, inform customers of part availability and price, and take inventory.

How To Become a Retail Clerk

Typically, there are no formal education requirements for retail sales workers. Most receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months.

Education

Although retail or parts sales positions usually have no formal education requirements, some employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent, especially employers who sell technical products or “big-ticket” items, such as electronics or cars.

Training

Most retail sales workers receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months. In small stores, an experienced employee often trains newly hired workers. In large stores, training programs are more formal and usually conducted over several days.

During training sessions, topics often include customer service, security, the store’s policies and procedures, and how to operate the cash register.

Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialized training. For example, salespersons working in cosmetics get instruction on the types of products the store offers and for whom the cosmetics would be most beneficial. Likewise, those who sell computers may be instructed on the technical differences between computer products.

Because providing exceptional service to customers is a priority for many employers, employees often get periodic training to update and refine their skills.

Advancement

Retail sales workers typically have opportunities to advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some employers want candidates for managerial positions to have a college degree.

As sales workers gain experience and seniority, they often move into positions that have greater responsibility and may be given their choice of departments in which to work. This opportunity often means moving to positions with higher potential earnings and commissions. The highest earnings potential usually involves selling “big-ticket” items—such as cars, jewelry, furniture, and electronics. These positions often require workers with extensive knowledge of the product and an excellent talent for persuasion.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Retail sales workers must be responsive to the wants and needs of customers. They should explain the product options available to customers and make appropriate recommendations.

Interpersonal skills. A friendly and outgoing personality is important for these workers because the job requires almost constant interaction with people. 

Math skills. Retail sales workers must have the ability to calculate price totals, discounts, and change owed to customers.

Persistence. A large number of attempted sales may not be successful, so sales workers should not be discouraged easily. They must start each new sales attempt with a positive attitude.

Selling skills. Retail sales workers must be persuasive when interacting with customers. They must clearly and effectively explain the benefits of the merchandise.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

Average Salary$24,628
Job Growth Rate-2%

Retail Clerk Jobs

Retail Clerk Career Paths

Top Careers Before Retail Clerk
Cashier22.2 %
Show More
Top Careers After Retail Clerk
Cashier17.0 %
Server6.3 %
Show More

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Retail Clerk

Retail Clerks in America make an average salary of $24,628 per year or $12 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $32,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $18,000 per year.
Average Salary
$24,628

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Retail Clerk, 00647
Retail Clerk, 00647
Bellevue Community College
Bellevue Community College
07/22/2020
07/22/2020
$25,04407/22/2020
$25,044
Tennis Shop Retail Clerk
Tennis Shop Retail Clerk
La Jolla Beach
La Jolla Beach
06/24/2020
06/24/2020
$29,21806/24/2020
$29,218
Clerk Retail
Clerk Retail
Cruisers
Cruisers
06/12/2020
06/12/2020
$18,26106/12/2020
$18,261
Liquor Store Retail Clerk
Liquor Store Retail Clerk
Minnesota City Jobs
Minnesota City Jobs
05/23/2020
05/23/2020
$23,58305/23/2020
$23,583
Retail Labor-Special Project Clerk
Retail Labor-Special Project Clerk
Adecco Staffing
Adecco Staffing
04/09/2020
04/09/2020
$27,13104/09/2020
$27,131
See More Recent Salaries

Calculate your salary

Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to see how your pay matches up.

Retail Clerk Demographics

Gender

Female

57.5 %

Male

38.4 %

Unknown

4.1 %
Ethnicity

White

62.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

17.0 %

Black or African American

11.1 %
Show More
Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

64.4 %

French

7.7 %

Russian

3.6 %
Show More

Retail Clerk Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

8.1 %

Western Washington University

6.5 %

Ashford University

6.2 %

University of Washington

5.8 %
Show More
Majors

Business

22.3 %

General Studies

7.5 %

Psychology

6.9 %

Criminal Justice

6.1 %
Show More
Degrees

High School Diploma

32.4 %

Bachelors

32.2 %

Associate

18.1 %

Certificate

7.5 %
Show More

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Retail Clerk

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Retail Clerk

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 38.5% of retail clerks listed stock shelves on their resume, but soft skills such as dexterity and math skills are important as well.

Best States For a Retail Clerk

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a retail clerk. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Oregon, California, and Washington. Retail clerks make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $33,431. Whereas in Oregon and California, they would average $31,552 and $30,994, respectively. While retail clerks would only make an average of $30,724 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total Retail Clerk Jobs:
387
Highest 10% Earn:
$57,000
Location Quotient:
1.35
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Wyoming

Total Retail Clerk Jobs:
176
Highest 10% Earn:
$45,000
Location Quotient:
1.4
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Idaho

Total Retail Clerk Jobs:
337
Highest 10% Earn:
$47,000
Location Quotient:
1.19
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

Retail Clerk Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a retail clerk. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless retail clerk resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Retail Clerk Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless retail clerk resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

How Do Retail Clerk Rate Their Jobs?

Working as a Retail Clerk? Share your experience anonymously.
Rate
Do you work as a Retail Clerk?
Rate how you like work as Retail Clerk. It's anonymous and will only take a minute.
Rate

Top Retail Clerk Employers

1. Macy's
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$35,321
Retail Clerks Hired: 
236+
2. Walmart
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$33,061
Retail Clerks Hired: 
234+
3. Central Purchasing
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$27,900
Retail Clerks Hired: 
200+
4. Meijer
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$36,887
Retail Clerks Hired: 
174+
5. J. C. Penney
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$34,178
Retail Clerks Hired: 
165+
6. Nordstrom
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$37,529
Retail Clerks Hired: 
136+

Retail Clerk Videos

Recently Added Retail Clerk Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020