Retail Industry Pay Rates
The retail industry is notorious for being a low-end, low paying industry on the whole. The majority of the employees on the shop floors are part time to keep the retail companies from having to offer benefits, and those part time employees tend to work their hours for minimum wage, whatever those wages might be (as minimum wage varies from state to state).
The low pay of your typical retail job is not all bad, though. Because of the low pay, the prices at the retail stores stay relatively low, and the employees get additional "pay" in the form of retail discounts. Working for large retail chains can mean getting discounts on all kinds of things that you use every day, from clothes to cleaners to school supplies, as well as a working knowledge of the best products, the cheapest ones, and the timing of all the sales.
The federal minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour in July of 2009 and changes periodically. Many states have a higher minimum wage requirement, four have minimum wage requirements that fall below the federal level, and five southern states have no minimum wage laws at all. If you are working retail, however, you can expect these kinds of rates to apply for you, whether you are working in California for $8.00 an hour or just a little more, or you are working in Ohio for $7.40. The highest minimum wage is in Washington state - $8.67 per hour.
Keep in mind, however, that you won't be expected to stay at these entry-level wages forever. In most cases, when you start a retail job, you'll begin with a three-month paid training period.
However, in many sales positions, which make up the bulk of all retail jobs, you'll also work on commission. That means that the more you sell, the more you'll earn. Some department stores offer a choice - you can work on commission plus an hourly wage or you can work purely on a slightly higher wage. Which should you choose? There's no solid way to determine how you'll make more money. Talk to some current employees and ask them about their experiences. If you're a really motivated seller earning commissions on big-ticket items, the commission plan might make sense. If the items are harder to sell, you may want the higher hourly wage.
If you work in administration, your paycheck will probably be based on an annual salary rather than an hourly wage. How much can you expect to be paid? Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast numbers. Your salary will likely be based on three things: how much experience you have, the size of the store where you're working, and the cost of living in your location.