Most industries employ sales representatives, and wholesale apparel merchants are no exception. Without a sales staff, it would be quite difficult to move product off the warehouse floor and onto store shelves. But rarely will it be a one-time transaction, and sales reps must make follow-up visits to their accounts to ensure the customer is satisfied.
In 2012, wholesale sales representatives earned an average of $64,300 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the top 10 percent, salaries often exceeded $112,650. The bottom 10 percent didn’t fare as well, earning less than $27,340 annually. But none of these figures accounts for industry. Those working for wholesale apparel merchants brought home closer to $69,330 -- just slightly more than the average wholesale sales rep.
Though information is limited for how location can affect salaries of sales reps working exclusively in wholesale apparel, the BLS does break down the occupation as a whole, giving some idea of local variances. Of the states, wholesale sales reps in Massachusetts earned the highest salaries, at an average of $81,070 a year. Those in New Jersey ranked second, with an average salary of $76,680, while wholesale sales reps in New York were a close third, bringing home an average of $75,840. The lowest reported wages were in Mississippi, where sales reps averaged $52,090 a year.
The relatively high salaries are at least partly due to compensation methods. Many wholesalers pay their sales representatives a base pay and then a commission on top of this salary. The more a sales rep sells, the higher the potential earnings tend to be. Another factor that may also play a role in salaries is duties, as many wholesale sales reps must first identify prospects before they can sell any goods. They must also maintain good relationships with existing clients, so their time is often split.
The BLS expects employment for wholesale sales representatives to grow by as much as 16 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is just slightly faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations, an estimated 14 percent. With more than 20,500 working in the wholesale apparel industry, the 16-percent growth should work out to nearly 3,300 new jobs over the course of a decade. Expect additional openings to crop up as wholesale sales reps retire or leave the industry.