Fashion merchandisers or buyers are liaisons between stores and wholesalers; they must choose which items to purchase for stores based on sales history and trends, then negotiate to get the best purchasing deal possible. The amount of money fashion merchandisers make depends on the type of apparel or accessories they work with and the type of store that employs them.
Fashion merchandisers earned an average of $55,480 as of 2009, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), or an average hourly wage of $26.68. The median salary was $48,650; merchandisers in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $28,870 a year, while those in the top 10 percent earned more than $88,830.
In department stores the average income of a fashion merchandiser was $53,320 as of 2009, while BLS reports those working in clothing stores earned $58,790. Merchandisers specializing in jewelry and leather goods earned an average of $50,020, and those dealing with shoes earned an average of $48,630. In sportswear and sporting goods stores the average salary of a fashion merchandiser was $49,580 annually.
Cost of living has an effect on the salary of a fashion merchandiser. The bureau reports that as of 2009, the metropolitan area of Brockton, Massachusetts, had the highest concentration of fashion merchandisers and offered an average salary of $58,710 a year. The Lake County-Kenosha County area of Illinois and Wisconsin was the top paying area for fashion merchandisers with a salary average of $80,540, closely followed by Reno, Nevada, at $80,370.
Fashion merchandisers may advance through several ranks depending on the type and size of the store they work for, including purchasing clerk, junior buyer, assistant buyer and purchasing manager. A merchandiser can increase her chances of advancement by obtaining certification such as the Certified Purchasing Professional credential offered by the Institute for Supply Management. Moving up to the position of purchasing manager usually comes with a promotion; BLS reports that the average income of a purchasing manager was $96,910 as of 2009, with those in the top 10 percent earning more than $145,960 a year.