Retail Facts

  • Retail is the largest employment sector in Canada.
  • Retail salesperson is the most common occupation in both Canada and the United States.
  • Cashier is the second most common occupation in the US for both genders, and fourth most common for Canadian women.
  • 1 in 10 Canadian workers is employed directly in retail/wholesale – that’s nearly 2 million people.
  • Across industrialized countries, retail workers constitute about 10% of the labour force, including in the US, where 15 million work on the front lines of retail.
  • Walmart is the largest private sector employer in the world, and the second largest employer, period.
  • Wage earners of all ages work in retail. There is a relatively high proportion of young workers, yet 4 in 10 retail workers in Canada is over the age of 45. The median age of retail workers in the US is 38. In Canada the median age is 34.
  • A majority of retail workers are women, particularly in sales associate and cashier positions.
  • In Canada and the United States, most retail workers are paid low wages (often minimum wage) and many are only given part-time hours.  They have few, if any, benefits.
  • Currently about 13% of retail workers in Canada and about 5% in the United States are unionized.

Compiled from various sources by the site author. Suggested citation:

Coulter, Kendra (2012) “Retail Facts.”


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