Retailing and Consumer Science

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You want to make a difference on a big scale, and we're here to support your aspirations. The $25-trillion global retail industry needs people like you to manage retail strategy and operations within this fast-paced, in-demand field. Our interdisciplinary curriculum provides you with a solid foundation in consumer behavior, management, merchandise buying and planning, marketing, branding and product development, human resources, operations, and digital retailing. Our expert faculty will guide you through the interpretation of leading research and retailing best practices to give you the expertise to make data-driven decisions and the confidence to inspire and motivate your colleagues. Our partnerships with industry leaders provide you with access to practical experience that empowers you to achieve success after graduation.

Why study Retailing & Consumer Sciences now?

Retail managerial, professional, and technical careers are both rewarding and highly-paid, and demand for employees is growing, not declining. 46 of the Fortune 500 are retailers. In addition, there are retailing professionals working for almost every major company and consulting firm -- from Samsung to L'Oreal to Bain. Retail is one of the best performing industries in the USA and globally. In 2018, U.S. retail sales increased by over 4 percent — the fastest growth in the past three years and the second strongest year of growth in the past decade. The Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2018 and in 2019.  The retail industry is the largest employer in the United States and directly represents 10 percent of total employment in the United States. 

Retailing and Consumer Science (RCSC) is an academic program of the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. Our mission is to provide world-class education on the business of retailing by integrating excellent instruction with cutting-edge research on consumer behavior and retail management. We aspire to be the program of choice globally among the few institutions that offer degrees focused exclusively on the study of consumers and the business of retailing. Our students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships that are exclusively available to RCSC students. Students in the RCSC program also have unparalleled opportunities for professional development, and access to retailing executives and experts. In addition, the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing will help you land internships, build your resume, and prepare to launch a successful career.

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Retailing Student

Norton School of Family & Consumer Sciences

The John and Doris Norton School of Family & Consumer Sciences is located within the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS). All of the Norton School faculty and staff are deeply committed to your success and creating a supportive environment for students to thrive. While you are here, you will make lifelong connections and take part in projects that make a difference on a big scale.

100% Engagement

For you, pursuing a career in retailing is the fulfillment of an ambition that blends both the creative and analytical. Through your engagement in retailing and consumer sciences courses and involvement in internships, case competitions, student clubs, study tours, and our retail innovation lab, you will develop a strong set of skills to see your ambition come to life. You will prepare for success after graduation and earn an engaged learning notation on your transcript through the UA’s 100% Engagement initiative. The retailing and consumer sciences program, internships, and extracurricular learning opportunities will help you discover the retailing career opportunities available to you and equip you with the experience leading employers seek.

Career Opportunities

Pursuing a degree in retailing and consumer sciences from the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences prepares you for success in the dynamic, rapidly growing retail sector. Our alumni have careers with these leading organizations: Amazon, Anthropologie, Athleta, Apple, Christian Louboutin, Dick’s Sporting Goods, DSW, JCPenney, Kendra Scott, Macy’s, NIKE, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, PetSmart, REI, Safeway, Stitch Fix, Target, The Home Depot, Trunk Club, Vince Camuto, Walgreens, Walmart,, Williams Sonoma, Zappos, and many others.

Retail Manager: Oversee store operations including recruiting, developing and managing store personnel. Other key tasks include ensuring proper execution of store-based product merchandising and promotional strategies and maintaining strong customer service levels.

Category Manger: Manage a group or category of products for a retailer or a vendor. Analyze shopper behavior data to identify trends and insights, spot the products consumers desire, and maximize consumer appeal. Evaluate pricing, instore placement, and overall promotion strategies to drive increased profit.

Retail Marketing Manager: Create, plan, and direct marketing programs that inspire interest and deliver sales for a retail brand, department, or client. Develop campaigns and events that drive traffic, acquire new customers, and build loyalty. Evaluate the performance of campaigns, track the market, and work across the organization to overall sales goals.

Brand Manager/Product Development: Oversee development of exclusive and private label brands for retailers to set them apart from the competition. Work closely with designers, retail buyers, marketing, supply chain managers, and vendors to develop and source unique offerings across a wide range of product categories.

Digital Retailing: Manage online merchandising, marketing, social commerce, design and presentation, operations, analysis, and customer experience. Use data and technology to understand and deliver what consumers want and what they prefer. Develop digital communications and customer programs that support both online and store sales.

Supply Chain/Logistics: Work with external partners across the globe, including product vendors and third-party logistics companies, to ensure efficient flow of product from manufacturers to stores, fulfillment centers, and customers. Help to create efficient and effective logistics operations within distribution and fulfillment centers, and timely physical allocation of products to meet planning and allocation objectives.

Retail Business Owner: Create your own role by starting a new retail business, retail franchise, services business,boutique, or digital retail site.

Supply Chain/Logistics Managers: Work with external partners including product vendors and third-party logistics companies to ensure efficient flow of product from manufacturer to store and fulfillment centers. Ensure efficient and effective logistics operations within distribution and fulfillment centers and timely physical allocation of product as driven by planning and allocation objectives

Human Resources Manager: Oversee a company’s human resources functions, including employment and staffing, performance evaluation, compensation and benefits, safety and employee relations.

Visual Merchandising Associates: Execute visual merchandising and creative direction and make appropriate changes based on store layout and product ownership. Collaborate with product buyers on all rollout expectations and assist with maintaining store forms, windows and store standards.

Retail Event Planners: Identify retail and outside event venues for product displays. Coordinate and assist with setup and tear down of displays. Recruit, hire, train and motivate professionals to market and staff the event.

Social Media/Digital Content: Enhance the reach and reputation of retailers, design houses, and brands through social media, influencer marketing, events and communications efforts.

Retail Buyer: Develop the most profitable product assortment based on a thorough understanding of consumer demands, space and dollar constraints, and vendor capabilities and offers. Oversee development of product pricing, promotion, and merchandising strategies executed across all sales channels.

Product Planning/Allocations Manager: Work closely with retail buyers, store managers, and supply chain personnel to ensure the proper volume and timing of product purchases and deliveries to satisfy customer demand, analyze inventory levels, and help gauge going forward demand.

Education and Industry Advocates: Offer training, education and support of retail in a variety of industries, including as a governmental lobbyist for retail operations.

Entrepreneur: Create new business models and product and service innovations that break into the very dynamic and changing retailing industry.

Public Relations/Advertising Managers: Enhance the reach and reputation of retailers, design houses, and other consumer goods businesses through strategic marketing and communications efforts.

Advanced Degree Candidates: Deepen your understanding and expand your career options through graduate business or design school.

Student and Terry J. Lundgren

Store Operations: Oversee the day-to- day operations of a department, store, or group of stores including inventory, customer service, productivity, promotions, and profitability. Recruit, train, coach, and manage store personnel to deliver an excellent customer experience. Ensure the proper execution of in-store merchandising and promotional strategies.

Product Developer: Oversee the development of private and exclusive labels for retailers that set them apart in the very competitive consumer market. Work closely with retail buyers, supply chain managers and vendors from across the world to develop and source unique offerings across a wide range of product categories.

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