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Sales & marketing

Retail buyer

Retail buyers choose products for shops to sell, like clothing, toys, electrical goods and food.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings; attending events or appointments

4%
Future employment

There will be 4% more Retail buyer jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

You couldanalyse and forecast trends from consumer data; attend trade fairs to find new products; manage product quality; obtain and analyse customer feedback; negotiate prices, orders and delivery dates; present collections to senior managers; track sales figures, manage stock levels and keep to budgets; check and react to competitor activities; adapt quickly to meet changing consumer behaviour and trends

Working environment

You could work in an office or at a store.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • completing private industry-recognised training
University

You can do a degree before joining a retail company graduate scheme. Employers recruit from a range of degree subjects. Some particularly relevant subjects include:

  • marketing
  • fashion buying and merchandising
  • fashion and business
  • retail business management

You could choose a course that includes a year's work placement to get relevant experience alongside your qualification. Or you could gain experience from a part-time job or a summer internship.

Your university careers service can help you to find part-time roles, placements and internships.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
College

You could do a course at college to get some of the skills needed to work in retail. Examples are:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Retail Operations
  • Level 2 Diploma in Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills

A course may help you to get your first job. You could then move into buying as your experience grows.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information
Apprenticeship

The following apprenticeships are relevant to this role.

On the retail side:

  • retail team leader advanced apprenticeship
  • retail manager higher apprenticeship

On the buying side:

  • buyer and merchandiser higher apprenticeship
  • assistant buyer and assistant merchandiser degree apprenticeship

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You can start as an assistant buyer and go on to become a junior buyer and work your way up. To go straight into a buying role, you'll usually need a qualification in retail or business.

It's possible to get experience in retail on the shop-floor, in visual merchandising, or as an admin assistant in a buyer's office. You can then spend time learning, doing training and getting qualifications on the job.

Other routes

Some companies in fashion retail offer training schemes specifically for buyers. These tend to be aimed at graduates. Other types of retailers offer general store management training schemes with the option to specialise in buying later on.

You can also take procurement and supply qualifications through the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a retail buyer from the Fashion Retail Academy.

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With experience and training you could become a senior buyer, buying controller or head of buying. You could also move into product management, marketing or merchandising.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to sell products and services
  • persuading and negotiating skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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