Is Bartending A Retail Job? (Full Guide)

is bartending a retail job
Joe | Last Updated: August 5, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.

Retail jobs account for 52 million jobs and represent $3.9 trillion of annual GDP in the United States alone. The industry is huge and one that primarily involves selling products directly to customers.

Sales representatives, customer service advisors, cashiers, store assistants, store managers, and inventory control specialists are all part of the enormous retail industry.

But what about bartending? In this post, we’re going to answer the common question “is bartending a retail job?“, as well as go through what industry bartending comes under and more.

In short, no, bartending is NOT a retail job. Whilst bartending does involve customer service and many other aspects that you would find in retail, bartending is a hospitality job.

Let’s take a closer look…

Is Bartending A Retail Job?

It’s easy to see why many people believe bartending is a retail job. Bartenders deal with customers on a regular basis and many of the skills required in retail are also needed in bartending.

While the difference between retail and hospitality is somewhat blurry, hospitality jobs focus more on the quality of service, with hospitality employees being extremely careful of their customer’s needs and first impressions.

The hospitality industry relies largely on travel and tourism and focuses on the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests or hospitable treatment.

is bartending a retail job
Image by shooterbenjamin

It’s important that bartenders provide this level of quality service to encourage punters to come back to the bar, therefore, first impressions are everything and successful bartenders will do everything they can to create an amazing atmosphere.

This means that bartending is NOT a retail job and instead comes under hospitality. Bartenders provide a high-quality service to those that enter the bar and focus on ‘pampering’ their clients whereas those in retail do not.

Of course, it’s important for those in retail jobs to treat their customers fairly and with respect, but it’s amplified much more in the hospitality industry as their revenue relies heavily on it.

>> Read more: Bartending part-time: everything you need to know

Is Bar Work Classed As Retail?

There’s no denying that having retail experience is excellent for those looking to get into the bartending industry, but ultimately bar work is NOT classed as retail.

The crossover in skills between the two industries is very similar, and if you’ve worked in retail previously you’ll likely be a great candidate for a bartending role

Some people even class bartending as “licensed retail”, which is essentially just regular retail only that it requires a license.

All bars require an alcohol license to sell alcohol on the premises, so it’s common to see people referring to bartending as a retail job.

Technically bartending is not retail, but if you have retail experience and are considering bartending then I urge you to give it a shot.

There are tons of similarities between the two roles and good customer service and communication skills are highly sought after in bartending.

What Industry Does Bartending Come Under?

Bartending comes under the HOSPITALITY industry.

The definition of hospitality is the relationship between the guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with some amount of goodwill, including the reception and entertainment of the guests, visitors, or strangers.

If you look at this in the context of bartending, the bartender is the host and welcomes the guest (customers) with a level of friendliness and reception.

There’s often entertainment in bars in the form of music, a dancefloor, and a good atmosphere which helps to entertain anyone who comes into the bar.

The hospitality industry is vast and covers a whole load of different businesses, but it can generally be broken down into four main categories.

  • Food and beverages
  • Travel and tourism
  • Entertainment and recreation
  • Accommodation

Bartending comes under the food and beverages category when it comes to hospitality, but it also crosses over into the entertainment and recreation side too.

Hospitality work is a segment of work that support people traveling or visiting certain places for pleasure, such as a bar or other alcohol-serving establishment.

People visit bars, nightclubs, golf clubs, and many other establishments for pleasure on a daily basis, therefore, these all fall under the hospitality sector.

What Type Of Job Is Retail?

Retail jobs are employed positions that primarily involve selling products directly to customers, this covers a variety of businesses ranging from small to large.

It’s an important role that requires excellent customer service, some basic sales skills, the ability to work as part of a team, and to be an effective communicator.

woman at cashier of coffee shop
Photo by Patrick Tomasso

Entry-level retail jobs often don’t require qualifications and are generally more focused on the individual applying for the role, similar to bartending.

Below are some examples of retail jobs:

  • Cashier
  • Buyer
  • Store Assistant
  • Customer service representative
  • Sales associate
  • Inventory control
  • Merchandiser
  • Butcher
  • Store manager

Essentially most jobs that come under the umbrella of selling products directly to customers fall under the retail sector.

Why Retail Experience Is Great For Bartending

Retail experience is perfect for bartending for a number of reasons.

Firstly, someone with a good amount of retail experience has undoubtedly had time working with customers and helping them to solve problems, which means they are likely good communicators.

Lots of people start their working life in retail, the experience gained in those jobs is a great foundation for progressing into other careers, including bartending as it helps to develop numerous important skills that can be used later on in life.

Communication skills, problem-solving, working under pressure, attention to detail, time management, and more are all enhanced through working retail and thus crossover perfectly into bartending.

Working in a retail environment can also help you learn how to handle money and make transactions quickly and accurately, which is important for bartenders who are responsible for handling cash and processing payments from customers.

Additionally, working in retail can help you develop a strong work ethic and the ability to handle a fast-paced, high-stress environment, which are important qualities for bartenders to have.

Overall, retail work experience can provide a strong foundation for a career in bartending.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this post has answered, “is bartending a retail job” in detail so that you now have a clear understanding of why bartending is not a retail job and is instead in the hospitality sector.

The retail and hospitality industry are very closely related so it’s easy to see why people think bartending is retail, and the skills required to work in both are virtually the same.

Hospitality requires a higher level of customer service as the business very much depends on it, whereas in retail, this is still important but not as much as acquiring new customers.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about the bartending industry today and I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.

See you in the next one!