Retail Salespersons

Occupation:Retail Salespersons
Category:Sales and Service

About the job

Nature of work:

Retail salespersons sell, rent or lease a range of technical and non-technical goods and services directly to consumers. They are employed by stores and other retail businesses, as well as wholesale businesses that sell on a retail basis to the public.

Job duties:
Retail salespersons perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Greet customers and discuss type, quality and quantity of merchandise or services sought for purchase, rental or lease.
  • Advise customers on use and care of merchandise, and provide advice concerning specialized products or services.
  • Estimate or quote prices, credit terms, trade-in allowances, warranties and delivery dates.
  • Prepare merchandise for purchase, rental or lease.
  • Prepare sales, rental or leasing contracts and accept cash, cheque, credit card or automatic debit payment.
  • Assist in display of merchandise.
  • Maintain sales records for inventory control.
  • Operate computerized inventory record keeping and re-ordering systems.
  • May conduct sales transactions through Internet-based electronic commerce.

Retail salespersons may specialize and act as consultants in home entertainment systems, computers and other products and services.

Sample job titles:
  • convenience store clerk
  • floral arranger - retail
  • motor vehicle salesperson
  • pharmacy clerk
  • retail sales associate
  • retail sales clerk
  • retail salesperson
  • sales and rental clerk
  • sales greeter
  • store clerk

For this work, you should have good interpersonal and communication skills. Patience, tact, and enthusiasm are important. You must always be alert to the customers' needs and be as helpful and efficient as possible. Basic math skills and product knowledge are also needed. Knowledge of another language, especially French, is an asset. Demonstrated sales ability and product knowledge are usually required for retail salespersons who sell complex or valuable merchandise, such as automobiles, antiques, or computers.

Job requirements:
  • Completion of secondary school may be required.
  • A university degree or college diploma may be required by some employers.
  • Specific subject matter courses or training may be required.
Other considerations:

Many positions are filled by part-time employees, who are required to work in the evenings and on weekends. Hours of work will depend on the needs of the employer. Earnings vary throughout the year due to the fact that retail salespersons are often employed part-time and have their hours increased or decreased according to sales levels. Also, wages are often supplemented with sales commissions. People in these jobs must be on their feet for long periods of time. Technical or sales training programs may be provided by employers. Progression to retail supervisory positions is possible with additional training or experience.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Good

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is better than average when compared to other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline significantly over the next few years, which will limit the number of new opportunities available (yet overall job prospects are still considered good due to other factors). With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Retail Salespersons may either be working full-time or part-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common.

The median employment income for 33% of Retail Salespersons who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $30,414. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Retail Salespersons16,115decline sharply35Moderate
Minimum: $11.00
Median: $11.87
Maximum: $20.00
Minimum: $2,694
Median: $14,508
Maximum: $44,416
Occupations in Sales and Service102,605Decline slightly5,260Moderate
Minimum: $10.70
Median: $12.50
Maximum: $21.17
Minimum: $2,949
Median: $16,629
Maximum: $45,086
Retail SalespersonsCompared to: Occupations in Sales and Service
Percent employed full-time50%59%
Percent self-employed0%6%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentRetail SalespersonsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton13%x13%$32,974
Annapolis Valley12%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeRetail SalespersonsCompared to: All Sales and Service
% Employed% Employed
Median Age3537
GenderRetail SalespersonsCompared to: Occupations in Sales and Service
% Employed% Employed
EducationRetail SalespersonsCompared to: All Sales and Service
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school16.4%$8,32318.8%$9,486
High school46.0%$14,26940.4%$12,982
Trades certificate5.0%$21,8908.0%$18,797
College certificate or diploma18.4%$17,83219.9%$19,514
University certificate or diploma1.3%$12,5291.6%$18,279
Bachelor's degree11.2%$16,78410.0%$20,807
University advanced certificate or diploma0.6%$22,3640.5%$15,716
Master's degree0.1%$16,4890.8%$20,769
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometry0.1%x0.1%$17,368
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
Retail Council of Canada
1255 Bay Street, Suite 800
Toronto, ON M5R 2A9
Tel: (416) 922-6678
Fax: (416) 922-8011

Training Paths & Education

There is no information to display in this section
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.