In this blog post, I’ll let you in on the recruitment trends set to affect retail buying and merchandising careers in 2019, as the ‘retail apocalypse’ shows no signs of slowing down.

It seems that every morning I open the papers to find another sorry retailing tale. Enough to instil dread in everyone working in the retail sector. Even eCommerce staff were given a rude awakening as ASOS cut its annual growth predictions, leading to share prices slumping by 35%.

Should you be worried or is now the right time to look for a new retail role?

I’ll explore how the current retail climate has been affecting hiring (it’s not all doom and gloom), along with the skills and experience most in demand by employers for 2019.

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The current retail climate

Online shopping was seen as the leading cause of the demise of the high street. Yet the profit announcements of Amazon, Boohoo and Zalando show that online retailers are far from immune There are a number of factors at play: from Brexit uncertainty to wages not rising in line with inflation and consumers prioritising ‘experiential purchases’ such as eating out, leisure and travel to material ones.

The outlook & trends for Buying & Merchandising in the retail sector

Restructuring and redundancies caused by the tough retail climate mean that people are not being replaced. Instead, their roles are being absorbed by the team, or they are being replaced by staff who have been promoted from within. External recruitment is therefore focused on replacing lower-level positions.

I am also seeing that those at a senior level (who generally have children and greater financial responsibilities) are favouring stability in the current climate. On the other hand, those in junior roles still favour progression and the excitement and challenge of a new working environment.

This means that there is generally a higher volume of retail recruitment at the lower level and a decrease at the higher level.

Market conditions also mean that employers are looking for people to hit the ground running and so are less willing to consider transferable skills.

The skills and experience most in demand in retail merchandising

Strong planning, trading and forecasting is more important than ever in the tough retail market. As new hires need to hit the ground running, experience in a similar environment is preferred, i.e. fashion wanting fashion, eCommerce favouring online experience and bricks & mortar favouring retail store experience. Employers are generally looking for candidates that have used similar merchandising tools to them too e.g. e.g. WSSI or line cards.

If you are a merchandiser working at a highly esteemed company then your prospects are even greater. For example, I have many clients specifically requesting merchandisers from The Hut Group, as they are seen are being mainly well educated, highly driven and bright, with a good grounding from the business.

The skills and experience most in demand in buying

In retail buying, experience in the role is valued over ‘prized companies’. Category experience is almost always a must, as well as Far East sourcing and product development, depending on the role. Strong negotiation skills are now highly in demand, as they are key to keeping costs down and protecting margins.

Find out more about buying and merchandising recruitment trends and what skills, benefits and perks are most in demand right now – as well as discovering average salaries – with our

Procurement & Supply Chain Salary Guide & Recruitment Trends 2019

covering Buying & Merchandising, Procurement & Supply Chain and Logistics, Warehousing & Transport.

Download your Salary & Benefits Guide 2019