Sales, Retail & Purchasing


At its heart sales is about understanding people, what they desire and what value they put on it. People in sales need to be good with people, but the kind of interactions you will have can vary greatly. Business sales involves building ongoing relationships with counterparts in other businesses, whereas telesales will mean dealing daily with many people over the phone. It is a sector where you will face pressure from sales targets and deadlines. But for goal orientated people it will be rewarding, as your sales give you a tangible sense of your achievements.


  • communication
  • active listening
  • decision making
  • developing relationships
  • adaptability
  • independence
  • initiative
  • leadership
  • negotiation
  • persuasion
  • attention to detail
  • prioritising work
  • sales & marketing
  • teamwork
  • time management

Key Facts

About This Sector

Labour Market & Jobs

At the end of 2018 there were 224,568 people working in retail, with another 49,904 in wholesale, ensuring retail locations are stocked. The motor trade accounted for a further 37,428 employees, making the total amount employed in Wholesale and Retail 311,900, representing 13.7% of national employment.

Employment in upper management positions in retail and wholesale has risen in line with the overall recovery of the wholesale/retail sector; those employed are equally likely to have a third level qualification as a higher secondary/FET education with a wide variety of entry routes.

With 135,700 sales assistances employed, this occupation accounted for 13% of job hires and will continue to offer job opportunities due to replacement demand alone. Half of those working are in part-time roles and job churn is a significant factor. Approx. 6,000 job ready job seekers previously worked in this occupation.

The SOLAS Vacancy Overview 2018 found that many entry level job openings exist for retail sales assistants and sales representatives. However the total number employed hasn't grown significantly, meaning the number of job openings indicates a high level of staff turnover in the sector.

Current Jobs