Shopkeeper Careers

How to become a Shopkeeper

What does a Shopkeeper do?

A shopkeeper owns and runs one independent shop or a number of shops.

A major part of the work is serving and selling to customers, either at a counter or self-service checkout. Shopkeepers take payments, give change and wrap purchases, as well as answering enquiries and giving advice to customers. They also listen to customers’ needs and requests - which can indicate new sales opportunities. They order stock from wholesalers, manufacturers, agents and importers.

Other tasks include remaining aware of competitors and their relevance to shop operations as well as calculating takings and wages, depositing cash at the bank, book-keeping and stocktaking. It is important that shopkeepers understand the regulations covering trading and running a business, for example VAT and national insurance payments.

What's the working environment like working as a Shopkeeper?

Shopkeepers work long hours, including evenings and weekends.

The work involves standing for long periods, and there is some lifting and carrying of stock.

What does it take to become a Shopkeeper?

To be a shopkeeper you should:

  • be independent, energetic and self-motivated
  • be prepared to work long and unsocial hours
  • be able to work in an organised way
  • have a good understanding of business and finance
  • have numerical ability for handling cash and keeping accounts
  • have the marketing skills to develop sales opportunities
  • have good communication skills for dealing with staff and customers.

Shopkeeper Career Opportunities

Independent shopkeepers include grocers, newsagents, dry cleaners, butchers, bakers, booksellers, florists, antique dealers and clothiers. Many run convenience stores, which open long hours and sell daily necessities.

Independent shopkeepers also run ‘concessions’ - shops within shops - in department stores. Some purchase a franchise (the right to trade under a particular name and business system) from a larger company. See the Self Employment Franchisee profile for details.

The number of independent shopkeepers in the UK has been reduced drastically in recent years as they face considerable competition from large, well-established stores. They also have to contend with rising overheads, such as rent and the increasing complexity of modern retailing.

Some shopkeepers may expand or improve their premises to do more business, or become owners of more than one shop.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Shopkeeper that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Business Link
Tel: 0845 600 9006

Scottish Enterprise
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
G2 8LU
Tel: 0845 607 8787

Skillsmart Retail
40 Duke Street
Tel: 0800 093 5001

British Franchise Association
Thames View
Newtown Road
Tel: 01491 578050

Facts and Stats:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte once called England a "nation of shopkeepers".

  • Consumer expenditure per head in the UK is £8,053.

  • The phrase "The customer is always right", was coined by H Gordon Selfridge.

  • The annual sales of digestive biscuits, if stacked on top of each other, would reach 275 miles high That's 4,500 times the height of Nelson's Column or 1,400 times the height of the Eiffel Tower.

  • Britain's first department store was Selfridges, which was opened in 1909.

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