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Assistant Store Managers: Climbing the Ladder to Retail Success


Assistant store managers act as an intermediary between team members, management and customers. Their customer-focused vision and managerial training ensure a positive shopping experience. As the “right hand” of the store manager, these dedicated professionals are a combination of technical wizardry and relationship-building mastery.    

Job Description

Assistant store managers typically have 1 to 3 years’ sales experience. Responsibilities include creating marketing deliverables to increase sales, assisting with in-store merchandising and maintaining inventory. Customer-service skills entail helping customers with products, services and billing questions, sometimes in a fast-paced or stressful environment.

Human resources management involves coaching sales associates by teaching them sales techniques and operational tasks. They should exemplify good written and oral communication. Assisting the store manager with opening/closing procedures, financial duties and administrative undertaking is a primary part of the job.

Additionally, they should have knowledge of  loss prevention and security measures. Retail assistant managers should be trouble shooters with excellent problem-solving skills.

Assistant store managers work 40 hours. Some overtime work (evenings and weekends) may be required.     


Assistant store managers are promoted primarily based on performance and sales. An estimated 26 percent of retail workers have some college but they are not college graduates and 15 percent have an associate’s degree. Employers often offer tuition assistance.      


Assistant store managers receive formal training. Joanna Herron, assistant store manager, Abbadabba’s in Kennesaw, Ga. said, “After working here for five months, I received training in end-of-day store sales, store associate supervision, company procedures and customer service.” Her instruction lasted about 45 – 60 days.

Assistant store managers should read, “The New Supervisor’s Survival Manual” by William A. Salmon.

Retail apprenticeships for sales associates and assistant store managers offer on-the-job training, expert guidance from industry professionals and career-defining certification. Graduates of apprenticeship programs move directly into permanent jobs. 

Relevant Skills

Jade Regotti, director of operations, Abbadabba’s, said, “I look for the Wow! factor. They must have a smile, be outgoing and have solutions.” Herron also said, “Don’t expect to have anything handed to you. Make sure you have a good reputation among your co-workers. Do your job right every day.”

Exceptional assistant store managers will stay up-to-date with the latest developments in logistics, marketing, consumer behavior, etc. by visiting Thisisretail.org. Besides your job, look for skill-enhancing opportunities. Volunteermatch.org has numerous listings for retail-related or managerial local and virtual volunteer opportunities.      


In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for first-line supervisors which includes assistant store managers was $17.70 or $36,820. General Merchandise stores had the greatest level of employment with 158,390 workers followed by grocery stores and clothing stores. Shoe stores held the largest percentage of jobs.        

The average salary for an assistant store manager is $9.17 - $14.17/hour base pay plus a 3 to 5 percent commission. Medical and dental benefits and 401(k) options are also included.

Career Path/Advancement

A management career in retail is based on proven performance. The National Retail Federation offers the National Professional Certification in Retail Management. Successful completion of this comprehensive test will demonstrate your long-term commitment for a retail career.  

Sources of Jobs

Retail store jobs can be found through social media, Department of Labor, retail staffing companies and recruitment agencies like Set and Service Resources. Expand your employment opportunities to retail job sites like Workinretail.com or Allretailjobs.com.

Job Outlook

In 2012, the top paying states for retail supervisory jobs were Rhode Island ($48,320), New Jersey ($48,060) and Hawaii (47,240). Even though 513,700 stores are projected to open during 2010 – 2020, assistant store manager positions will grow at a slower rate of 3 to 9 percent. 

TAGS: retail, career, jobs, work in retail,
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