What are Retail Sales?

Patti Kate

Retail sales refers to selling of goods and merchandise by a sales agent, company, or main distributor. In retail, the manufacturer does not sell his goods directly, but instead offers his merchandise through the aforementioned distributor, who most often will set the price according to the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). In many cases, the distributing company may offer discounts and sales that reflect lower prices than those set by the seller.

Retail clerks often also serve as salespeople.
Retail clerks often also serve as salespeople.

There are many aspects of retail sales. Devising strategic concepts and innovative plans to increase productivity and sales is the main purpose of retail marketing. A popular way for the public to buy goods through retail is by shopping for chain store sales and at independent outlets and stores. There are numerous categories of retail sales products that are offered to the public.

Retail sales involves the selling and distributing of merchandise.
Retail sales involves the selling and distributing of merchandise.

Electronics are extremely popular and generally best-selling items in retail. This may include the sales of appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, or televisions and stereo systems. Cellular phones and computers are electronic products sold in retail as well.

Electronics are among the most popular products sold in retail stores.
Electronics are among the most popular products sold in retail stores.

Clothing is very profitable commodity in retail sales. This is due to the great need and variety available. Furniture is another item that is widely sold and purchased at retail. Automobile accessories are also in great demand. Other products that are sold in the retail market include food and liquor.

In retail sales, a retail investor may purchase products and goods through a seller. The retail investor does not sell these goods to the public. Instead, he will acquire them for his own use, investment, or personal inventory.

Other integral aspects of retail sales include management and marketing. In retail management, a keen knowledge of the business end and public awareness is essential to success. In managing a retail store, it is important to efficiently maintain operations within the business. Ensuring the public's needs are met is a crucial aspect as well. Marketing works hand-in-hand with management in a retail sales environment.

Being a retail sales associate often means being involved in customer service, managing inventory and stock, and helping to promote healthy sales growth and revenue. Some of the essential duties of a retail associate may include directly assisting customers and closing a sale, as well as answering all inquiries and questions. Resolving customer issues or complaints to a satisfactory conclusion is crucial as well.

Many retainers have sales associates that work in customer service.
Many retainers have sales associates that work in customer service.

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Discussion Comments


@Sneakers41 - I just wanted to say that I went into retail management right out of college. I went into an Executive training program for a major department store and they recruited when they visited by school.

It was a six week training program that allowed us to work in the stores for a few days during our training. We were immediately assigned our stores and after the training we had to report directly to our senior manager at the assigned store.

I worked long hours and had to perform floor moves as well as inventory. I worked about fifty to sixty hours a week on a regular basis.

I liked the challenging nature of the job and how everyday was not the same, but I disliked working weekends which is a must for anyone working in a retail environment. I did enjoy the store discounts which were a really nice perk to the job.


@SurfNturf - I agree that retail sales training during this time period will let you know quickly if you are cut out for retail or not. I think that many people begin their retail careers working in retail sales jobs and later move on to becoming a department manager followed by a store manager.

The department managers are responsible for the sales revenues of their individual departments and also have to adhere to merchandising standards for their respective departments.

They have to ensure that there is adequate staffing at all times and not allow anyone to have time off during blackout periods such as Black Friday and beyond. In addition, they have to train their employees on proper customer etiquette as well as maintaining merchandising and overall visual standards of the department.

They also have to handle customer disputes that arise when customers complain about something. It is a really exhausting job but it can be fun for the right person.


I think that the best time to look for retail sales jobs are in the last quarter of the year during the fall season. This is the time of year when retailers have the greatest need. The retail sales business from October through December makes up about 70% of the average retailers revenue.

Since the retail sales figures are so high during this time you will most likely be able to find a job and the fast paced environment will allow you to learn the retail sales business in no time. It is really the most exciting time of year for any retailer.

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