Speaking up for you

Perceptions of Retail as a Career 

Update August 2023

Our research on the perceptions of retail as a career covered a diverse range of the population. Over 2000 Kiwis and retailers participated in this survey.  You can read the the comprehensive research from our research partner Ipsos here.

The positive aspects of being a retailer shone through with respondents indicating that retail was about helping people, providing great customer service, being part of a collaborative team and feeling connected to their local community.  

This research highlighted key areas that people do not understand about the sector such as the importance of teamwork, flexibility, opportunity for career development and progression, the prospects that a career in retail provides or the variety of roles available.

As a reminder, this project has several phases. We are now moving into Phase 2. We’ll be appointing communications and advertising agencies to support us in changing the perceptions of retail as a career and embarking on a three-year campaign to make a difference to the pipeline of talent that we need for the sector. 

As a reminder, these are the three phases: 

  • Phase one – Comprehensive research.
  • Phase two – Changing perceptions (we are here)
  • Phase three – Comprehensive review  

If you have questions about Project Perceptions please contact Project Adviser, Lania Rock at [email protected]


We’ve listened 

In many conversations with retailers, we’ve heard the same thing – that a key challenge for our sector is a shortage of workforce talent and the perception that there isn’t a career in the retail sector. At Retail NZ, we know the value of the retail sector for careers, skills and communities so the concept of the opposing perception is concerning. 

We want to change the narrative by finding out more about what people’s perceptions are of retail as a career both in the general population and for retailers themselves. 

As a result, Retail NZ is leading a project to address any perceived challenges and perceptions by finding solutions that will benefit the sector. 

Our intended project outcomes: 

  • improved perceptions of retail careers 
  • improved understanding of the career options and earning ability available within retail 
  • a greater pool of talent is available for the retail sector 
  • an ability to demonstrate to government that the sector may need additional interventions to secure talent 
  • potential identification of viability of micro credentials for retail

This project contains multiple elements – including a substantive research project which will lead us to launch a campaign, and influencer programme to drive a change in attitudes to careers in the retail sector with New Zealanders.  

A Steering Group has been formed with members of industry. The Steering Groups role is to provide consultation and feedback. Retail NZ and Ringa Hora will be in this group. We welcome the following industry stakeholders: 

Jules Lloyd-Jones

Chief of Customer Marketing and Inspiration
Mitre 10 New Zealand

Kristina Hitchcock 

Head of Human Resources 
Postie Plus

Carrie Welch 

Chief Operations and Customer Officer 
Paper Plus 

Wendy McLaughlin 

Head of Retail Sales
2 degrees 

Mel Harrington

GM Partnership & Engagement
Ringa Hora

Carolyn Young

CEO
Retail NZ


We welcome the support of Ringa Hora – Workforce Development Council for Services who have enabled this project by providing a portion of initial funding. 

If you have any questions about this project, please contact us here.

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