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Job Description


This job is part of our sustainability series:  > See more sustainable job ideas > Find out more about sustainable careers

A Retail Buyer helps to ensure the right products are selected at the right price to sell in the store. They will need to source suppliers, negotiate prices, ensure products can be delivered on time, help with predicting future sales trends and decide when old products should be discontinued.  

Entry Requirements

You can get into this job through:

You could do a Customer Service course at college to get some of the skills needed to work in retail.

The following local colleges offer courses in Customer Service:

You usually will need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course.

Or your local 6th form may offer a relevant course.


You might start your career with a retail team leader advanced apprenticeship or retail manager higher apprenticeship before moving into the buying side.

You could also apply to do a buying and merchandising assistant higher or degree apprenticeship.

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

Click here to search for an apprenticeship.


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.

Career Path and Progression

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.

Related careers you may be interested in:

  • Purchasing manager
  • Fashion design assistant
  • Personal shopper
  • Retail manager
  • Retail merchandiser

Required Skills

  • Excellent communication skills
  • The ability to influence others
  • Commercial awareness
  • Organised
  • Good negotiation skills
  • A creative flair
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Determination
  • The ability to reach set targets

Salary Range

£18,000 to £70,000

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