Retail Recruitment: The Benchmark Stats You Need to Know

Key Retail Recruitment Stats Every Recruiter Needs To Know (1)

The retail sector continues to undergo extensive change, with the BBC reporting that almost 22,000 retail jobs were lost from the UK high street in the last year.

This combined with demographic changes, the way people look for jobs, and a rapidly changing media landscape, mean recruiters in the sector need to take a fresh approach.

Before you can do that though, you need to be able to benchmark how well you perform against key metrics, such as:

  • How much should you be spending per hire?
  • What do you do if you’re struggling to find applicants?
  • How can you increase engagement?

The purpose of this report is to help Retail recruiters start that process.

Using data from our platform, we looked at a sample of 7,294 retail jobs across a broad range of employers from within the last 12 months to help recruiters optimise their retail jobs performance.

The jobs were all advertised across our ClickIQ network of 25 pay-per-click job boards and aggregators including Indeed, ZipRecruiter and Adzuna.

Retail Recruitment Infographic

To explore the key retail recruitment stats from this report, click on image below to open the full infographic:

Summary Benchmarking Data

As a sector, retail compared very favourably to the benchmark as a whole (industry data).

Response rates were 114% higher, the cost-per-click was lower, and conversion rates were higher. All of which resulted in a lower cost-per-application.

The only area where retail compared less favourably was the percentage of responses generated organically – which suggests this is a relatively competitive sector.

There was a very wide variation in number of applications, including some real outliers

(Clarks Shoes holds the record with over 2,500 applications!)

95% of jobs ranged from 0 to 84 applications which was again high when compared to the benchmark data.


Retail sector

Compared to benchmark stats (all jobs on the platform)

Conversion rate22.64%High
% Organic (free) responses73.6%Low
Cost-per-Click (Paid) range£0.18 – £0.27Low
Average Cost-per-Application£0.21Low


(Paid advertising only)


The two key factors that affected response rates were brand and location. For those recruiters who don’t have the benefit of a strong employer brand, the paid cost-per-application is a better indicator of the stats you can expect as they will generate a much lower percentage of organic responses.

Looking at the paid advertising performance, the average cost-per-application was £1.32 which is a very useful benchmark to use.

The average conversion rate from click to apply was 22.64%, but was higher for organic responses than sponsored jobs.

Indeed was responsible for the vast majority of organic (free) responses.

The Employer Brand Divide

As you would expect, the best-known brands dominated response rates and had a significantly higher percentage of organic responses.

Some Specific Examples

Let’s look at a couple of individual examples. Below, we have highlighted two roles at different levels from top employers – Saint Gobain (Jewsons) and O2.

Across the data we sampled, there were wide variations but the following was fairly typical:

Job Title

Retail Branch Manager

Retail Advisor

Conversion Rate28.7%17.8%
Cost-Per-Application (CPA)£0.94£0.57

Turning the tap off

One of the challenges that retail recruiters have always faced is large volumes of applications.

Unlike the traditional, duration-based methods of advertising where there is very little control over the volume of applicants, the pay-per-click methods give recruiters much more control and flexibility, allowing recruiters to automatically turn off any adverts once they have reached the desired number of applications.

Advanced Targeting: Location Based

Location is a key factor, for example London will attract more responses than the Cotswolds.

Facebook (and Instagram) allow you to create target sets that enable you to reach specific individuals.

Simply select which locations you want to reach then launch the campaign, either using employer branded or direct response ads (ClickIQ can dynamically create and manage these so you don’t have to spend huge budgets).

Retail PPC Benchmarks

The average cost-per-click (CPC) in retail was £0.18.

However, this can vary significantly based on location. A good range would be £0.18 – £0.30, with the very top end highly competitive roles being at up to £0.99, though most come in at under £0.50.

By paying more, you will attract better quality applicants as you will appear higher in the listings (which is where you will find the better applicants). Read our recent blog to find out more about this.

By using an automation system like ClickIQ, you won’t have to worry about overpaying as the system only spends what it needs too. Just set the CPC at the top end and the system will adjust spend down based on real-time results.

Focus on Indeed

Indeed are the UK’s largest job board. They kindly provided us with some specific data in reference to retail recruitment in July 2018:

  • 20,309 retail jobs were uploaded on Indeed
  • 7,848,501 clicks on retail jobs
  • 23,717 retail CVs were uploaded to Indeed

This gives us an average of 386 clicks per job.

The average cost-per-click (CPC) in England was £0.27.

Retail Manager Jobs

  • 1,692 retail manager jobs received clicks
  • 67% of clicks came from mobile
  • The top search terms were: retail (11.89%), warehouse (1.9%), supervisor (1.54%) and manager (1.4%).

Retail Sales Associate Jobs

  • 6,933 retail sales associate jobs received clicks
  • 59% of clicks came from mobile
  • The top search terms were: retail (7.76%), sales assistant (5.96%) and retail assistant (3.18%).

So how much should you spend?

Clearly this depends on a number of things including your brand, how many organic applications you attract, and how competitive or specialist your roles are.

Brand strength



% organic response73%0%
Spend per hire£9.24£33

These recommendations are based on the average conversion rates from click to apply and needing 25 applications to hire.

Mobile, Millienials, GenZ’s: Chatbots and the Application Process

When recruiting retail staff, it is a competitive sector with a lot of retail jobs out there meaning you need to make your careers site and application process as engaging and simple as possible.

Not only that, but depending on the level of role advertised, significant numbers of people working in retail roles tend to be younger millennials and Gen Z (54% of retail workers are 34 or younger). These young people are more frequent users of social media and tend to use mobile more than desktop (60%+), meaning your recruitment process has to be mobile-friendly.

This is where chatbots can help.

As a result of the ease of application, a chatbot can typically triple conversion rates when used instead of a traditional, form-based application process, this becomes especially important when advertising on social media, or applying on mobile.

A chatbot can quickly and conversationally collect all of the data you need from candidates and gives them the opportunity to ask the questions they might be embarrassed to ask a recruiter (i.e. what is the maternity pay, what are your salary levels etc.)

Recommendations to reach the best retail staff:

  1. Pay-per-click advertising is a very cost-effective method for recruiting in the retail sector.
  2. For large brands, a significant percentage of responses will come organically. For lesser known employers, you will have to invest in sponsored advertising.
  3. Depending on how well-recognised your brand is, you will need to adjust your advertising spend accordingly. If you are a smaller, less well-known brand then we would recommend spending around £33 per hire. If you are a more well-known retailer then you can probably get away with spending as little as £10 per hire.
  4. If you are recruiting in a hard to fill location, invest in social media or display targeting to reach local retail staff in your area. If you would like to find out more about this, then arrange to speak to one of our team using the link below.
  5. Make sure you use popular keywords to get more clicks on your jobs (i.e. retail, sales assistant, retail assistant, warehouse). Also, specify if your role is full-time or part-time – this is particularly important if recruiting young people who may be working around school commitments.
  6. Keep your job postings short – job descriptions between 700 – 2,000 characters tend to receive more applications than other postings.
  7. Add a chatbot to drive engagement. Bots like ClickIQ’s Recruitment Bot can increase engagement by up to 40% as they give candidates the chance to ask questions and take much of the hassle out of the application process.
  8. Keep your careers site and employer branding clear and strong.
  9. Make sure your jobs are on Google for Jobs as this is undoubtedly going to have a big impact on the applicant process over the coming months. Read our Google for Jobs Strategy Guide to make sure all of your jobs are appearing on there.
  10. Keep up with all the latest trends and discussions by signing up to Hung Lee’s Recruiting Brainfood here.
  11. Explore Indeed’s latest snapshot of retail recruitment by downloading their report here: UKRetailSnapshotQ3-2018

Learn More About ClickIQ

ClickIQ is an Automated Talent Attraction Platform which uses AI and Programmatic technology to intelligently manage and optimise your recruitment advertising in real time, across an extensive network of performance based recruitment media.

Saving recruiters significant time and money whilst also increasing their advertising reach.

Follow Richard Collins on LinkedIn to explore of the latest developments in the sector and to learn how you can keep your Talent Attraction strategy ahead of the curve.

About ClickIQ:

ClickIQ’s automated job advertising platform manages, tracks and optimises the performance of your recruitment advertising in real time, focusing spend where it’s needed most to reach both active and passive job seekers across Indeed, Google, Facebook and an extensive network of job boards.

Follow Richard Collins on LinkedIn to explore of the latest developments in the sector and to learn how you can keep your Talent Attraction strategy ahead of the curve.

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