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Retail Analyst


The world of retail has developed from the general, country store to giant mega malls filled with every item you might ever wish to buy. Retail analysts are responsible for conducting research, analyzing statistical data and preparing reports that are used to examine the retail industry and predict potential problems. They are sometimes hired by private companies to research the competitors; analyzing prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution. They compare the Walmarts to the small community grocery stores to the department stores and the boutiques. Retail analysts look into critical trends and issues that exists in all sectors of the retail industry including e-commerce, politics, marketing, branding and consumer trends. In a nutshell, they attempt to provide people with a practical understanding of how the retail sector functions in our economy.

Retail sales affect our everyday lives therefore it is important that people understand how it works economically. Retail analysts are interested in the factors that influence the spending habits of people and they aim to find solutions to improve people's retail experiences. This includes studying how retail and trade markets are organized and how they interact. In addition, they research social, political and environmental issues in relation to the retail market. Retail analysts have to know everything about the strengths and weaknesses of economics, and economic methods and theories. It is also important that they are up-to-date with technological developments, politics and current affairs. They use models and methodologies to think about the world and specific issues, which may require knowledge of mathematical statistics, human behavior and overseas economic ideas and trends.

Retail analysts use their knowledge and analytical economic research to advise businesses and other retail organizations. Through economic analyses, they will suggest potential positive results and changes that retailers can make in order to make money and survive in the volatile economy. Suggestions could include how to generate higher sales and how to target specific audiences. The analyst will be responsible for producing high quality in-depth reports and newsletters through original research and analysis of retail sectors. These reports must be presented in a clear and meaningful way so that people can understand what their data really means.

Retail analysts may work for the government to assess economic retail conditions in relation to foreign nations in order to estimate the economic effects of specific changes in legislation. For example, analysts might compare how the American dollar fluctuates against foreign currencies in a study about spending habits in the retail sector.
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  Interests and Skills  
Retail analysts have strong mathematical, statistical and analytical skills. They enjoy developing innovative and creative economic models, analyzing information and making economic forecasts and communicating ideas in clear and logical ways (using plain language to describe complex issues). They come into contact with many abstract concepts therefore they must enjoy problem solving. They should also be interested in the retail sector.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research and develop models that illustrate and forecast economic retail behavior and patterns, and devise methods for the collection and analysis of data
  • Analyze factors that determine economic growth and advise government agencies on policies to increase retail activities
  • Study mathematical formulas and statistical techniques and apply them to the testing and quantifying of economic theories and the solution of economic problems
  • Study the nature of money, credit, spending and credit instruments and the operation of banks and other financial institutions to develop monetary policies and forecasts of financial activity
  • Examine problems related to the retail economic activity of individual companies
  • Examine financing methods, production costs and techniques and marketing policies to discover possible improvements
  • Study statistics on the exchange of retail goods and services among nations
  • Conduct research on market conditions in local, regional or national areas to set sales and pricing levels for goods and services, as well as assess market potential and future trends
  • Retail analysts generally work in office environments using computers and other forms of research materials to compile and analyze data. Working hours are usually long (up to 10-hour days) and often require additional hours on weekends or during the evening. They may travel locally and globally to present economic information to clients, to carry out research, and to attend conferences and meetings. They may also travel overseas to retail conferences and to do contract work in developing countries

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Retail analysts work in both the public and private sectors. They are often employed by the government, educational and research institutions, large organizations in finance and business, all retail stores, professional and recreational organisations and consulting and marketing firms.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Retail analysts have the ability to move around different analytical financial and retail sectors. They may decide to work as a business analyst, banker, head of a department store or stockbroker. Some retail analysts may decide to become teachers at universities and colleges. Many analysts are employed as economic consultants to advise business, industry, government, labor and others. Some retail analysts may open up their own consulting firms. They can also advance into technical writing positions as they have experience writing clear and concise reports.

  Educational Paths  
As a minimum industry standard, retail analysts generally require an undergraduate degree in economics or other fields of finance and business. Many retail analysts also have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and some even have PhDs. A master's or doctoral level degree is required for teaching at the postsecondary level and advancement into senior positions. Any programs or courses that expose a student to the world of business and finance are also useful.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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