Fashion Retail Buyer: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for retail buyers. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Fashion Retail Buyer?

As a fashion retail buyer, you choose the clothes and accessories that are sold in stores. Your decisions impact your employer's profits and influence what fashions customers wear that season. Fashion retail buyers examine their suppliers with regards to the quality and price of their products. They attend many meetings to learn about suppliers and make additional contacts. They also negotiate contracts and agreements for various products. If a product is unacceptable, fashion retail buyers must work with the vendors to correct the situation. They must keep excellent records of product sales and costs, as well as monitor contracts to ensure compliance and evaluate any necessary changes. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a fashion retail buyer.

Education Required High school diploma, associate's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Fashion merchandising, business, business administration, marketing
Key Responsibilities Buy clothes and accessories from manufacturers and wholesalers, study fashion trends and predict what buyers will purchase, keep current with prices and market research
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all wholesale and retail buyers)*
Average Salary (2015) $59,270 (for all wholesale and retail buyers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Be a Fashion Retail Buyer?

You don't need a college degree to become a fashion retail buyer. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a growing trend of jobseekers in this field pursuing a college degree in addition to industry experience for fashion buyer and related management positions as of 2011 (www.bls.gov). You could pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree to become a fashion retail buyer. Some of your options include programs for fashion merchandising, business, business administration, marketing, communications, English, business management or economics.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

Fashion retail buyers buy clothes and accessories from manufacturers and wholesalers. The fashions selected by the retail buyers are then sold at stores. Thus, your purchasing decisions as a fashion buyer directly impact your employer's profits.

Fashion retail buyers study fashion trends and make predictions about what shoppers will purchase in stores. Fashion retail buyers must keep current with fashion trends, customer preferences, prices and market research in order to buy apparel that appeals to shoppers.

You confer with apparel manufacturers and wholesalers while also searching for new sources from which to buy. As a fashion retail buyer, you might make important decisions on advertising, promotions and product displays. Buyers keep track of inventory and adhere to budgets.

The size of the company you work for typically dictates the amount and type of clothing you purchase. Buyers for boutiques or small retailers might purchase the entire inventory. Buyers at a large retailer or major chain store might focus on buying a certain type of clothes, like women's sportswear or children's garments.

Are There Any Unique Work Conditions?

Holidays and other busy shopping periods are lucrative for retailers who want their fashion buyers and other staff available. You might work extra hours with restricted vacation availability during these times.

Expect to travel on your job. Fashion retail buyers often make business trips to meet with wholesalers and manufacturers, participate in trade shows or travel to other stores from the same chain or owner. International travel is a possibility if you work for a major retailer.

What About Salary and Employment Prospects?

The 10th-90th percentile of retail buyers earned yearly pay of $30,200 to $95,590 as of May 2015, according to the BLS. As of 2014, the BLS predicted that the number of jobs among wholesale and retail buyers would grow by 6% from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Growth in this occupation is expected to be driven largely by the economic condition of wholesale and retail industries over the decade.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Food service managers, financial clerks and lodging managers are all related positions that require at least a high school diploma or equivalent. These positions, like fashion retail buyers, must often negotiate with vendors and ensure that they provide high quality services. Food service managers can work in any number of eating establishments. They ensure customer satisfaction and oversee the activities of the staff. Financial clerks can also work in a variety of settings. They perform various administrative tasks dealing with money transactions and helping customers. Lodging managers coordinate the staff and activities of their establishment, while working to make sure that each guest has a pleasant stay.

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