Retail has a bad press among job seekers and students. There is a common misconception that only the minimum wage awaits applicants and that opportunities for advancement are unlikely or non-existent. But that’s not the case, according to experts.
It is true that when compared to the rest of Canada, the average weekly earnings of retail employees in Quebec were $513.72 in 2014, compared to $542.22 in the rest of the country.
The comparison is all the more striking when comparing average weekly wages in retail trade to those in all industries. In Quebec, the gap is $311: $513 for retail trade and $849.69 for all industries. Moreover, this gap widened between 2001 and 2014.
These figures were compiled by the Retail Labour Sector Committee, Détail Québec. For the committee’s Executive Director, Patricia Lapierre, the sector must be considered as a whole. “We must not forget that this sector includes 15% of minimum wage employees and 37% of employees are part-time, but that these figures are compiled in our figures, which confuses the issue a bit. “Retail trade is comparable to accommodation and food services in this sense.
The reality on the ground
Patricia Lapierre insists on the fact that this sector is characterized by a parallel mode of remuneration. She identifies three main ones: commission, performance bonuses, and team bonuses. “It’s impossible to compile these numbers, but we know they make a significant difference when considering compensation in the sector,” says Lapierre.
It also reminds candidates that they should not hesitate to ask questions about premiums and commission to their future employers, and above all to compare them with each other. Ms. Lapierre also advises candidates to be clear about their expectations, what they want (advancement, a management position, etc.), and finally, not to forget to validate the company’s values and culture before accepting a position, regardless of the salary.
While it’s true that jobs such as sales consultants are often the front door and usually pay minimum wage, there are also other ways to enter the sector. Those who want to enter the sector are at an advantage if they have worked there during their studies. You can get positions of responsibility very quickly, such as a director or in marketing, for example, and expect competitive salaries in this field, because demand is high.
Léopold Turgeon is President and CEO of the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail. According to him, the sector’s most important challenge is that of technology: “The situation is glaring in Quebec, businesses and merchants must adapt to new technologies and ways of shopping. »
This has an impact on the labour force and the remuneration of these technology professionals who are offered excellent salaries for their services. “We’re not just talking about physical stores, we’re talking about online sales, applications, social networks and appropriation of technology,” says Turgeon, who believes the retail sector is stronger despite new ways of shopping, especially online.
According to Détail Québec, it is small businesses that can offer the best salaries. Weekly earnings decrease with the size of the business: $501 in businesses with 49 employees or less, $493 in businesses with 50 to 299 employees and $448 in large businesses with 300 employees or more. Not to mention that the smaller the company, the more technological expertise is in demand.
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