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The Responsibilities of Retail Store Supervisors

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Retail stores sell products and services to consumers. Supervisors in a retail store include all managers who oversee the work of other managers or sales and service associates. At the top, this includes a general manager of a store. In addition, assistant managers, shift managers and department managers all commonly supervise employees. Pay varies by management level, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted an average annual pay for first-line retail sales supervisors of $43,910, as of May 2016.

Merchandise and Inventory Control

Managers ultimately hold responsibility for the people and product inventory they supervise. A supervisor typically guides his staff in optimal merchandising, which includes effective visual displays on the floor and efficient stocking of inventory in storage areas. Additionally, a supervisor maintains inventory. If inventory loss is high because of internal theft or shoplifting, the manager must work to figure out the source of the problem.

Hiring and Firing

Many supervisorial tasks fall under the umbrella of personnel management. This includes hiring and firing employees in the store or department. In small businesses, retail managers may have to actively recruit sales and service associates to develop a formidable staff. Reviewing applications and resumes, conducting interviews and making reference calls are among the hiring responsibilities. When an employee commits a terminable offense, such as stealing, or consistently falls short on performance, the manager must determine whether to fire or discipline the employee.

Training and Motivation

The other major component of personnel duties for a retail supervisor includes training and motivation. Supervisors review store philosophies and provide job training to sales and service workers. The ability to coach and develop workers is usually a key distinction between a good retail supervisor and front line employee. Additionally, the manager must motivate workers to a high level of performance. This includes conducting periodic evaluations and coaching employees on skill and attitude development.


In large retail stores, general managers and department managers often have purchasing, budgeting and accounting responsibilities. The meat department manager in a grocery store, for instance, is usually responsible for ordering the necessary food and supplies for his department. He usually must monitor spending in line with budgets, and keep inventory and accounting records.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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