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Andrew Arkley|November 22, 2022

How To Write A Retail Assistant Cover Letter That Gets Read

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Don’t overlook the importance of a well-written cover letter for a retail assistant job.

According to CareerBuilder, 45% of job applicants don’t make the time to write a cover letter. However, even if you’re not asked to provide a cover letter, we always recommend it. 

Not only does it give you another opportunity to outline your credentials, it’s a chance to put distance between yourself and other applicants who don’t put the same effort in.

Writing a cover letter makes you look professional and is a good way to convey your unique personality, as if you were in an interview.

We’ve previously written about how to write a strong cover letter in general – including tips for getting the length, style, tone and formatting right.

Below, we run through how to write a cover letter for a retail assistant position that impresses recruiters and hiring managers. 

We’ve also included an example cover letter for a retail assistant role.

Retail assistant cover letter – key principles

First things first, avoid starting with a generic ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and work out who to address your cover letter to. According to CareerBuilder, 84% of applicants don’t bother doing this.

Sometimes it’s obvious, but often it’s tricky to find the right person – here’s a handy guide on how to address a cover letter.

Compared to a CV, the cover letter format gives you the chance to explain why you’re right for the role.

That means you can elaborate on the biggest achievements mentioned in your CV.

If it helps, you can structure these with the STAR method, so that they’re impactful and put into context:

  • Situation: Outline your objective or goal
  • Task: Explain the challenges you faced
  • Action: Summarise the steps you took
  • Result: Reveal the result and what you achieved

We’ve used the STAR technique in our example cover letter for a retail assistant, below.

At the end of your cover letter, finish confidently, politely and by summarising your strengths.

Key skills in a cover letter for a retail assistant

What are hiring managers looking for in a cover letter for a retail assistant job opportunity?

As you’d expect, strong customer service skills are vital. 

So, if you can prove you’re a great communicator with fantastic interpersonal skills, empathetic and patient, helpful or willing to go the extra mile to support customers, give examples.

Sales skills are crucial too – if you’re persuasive and have a proven track record of hitting or exceeding quotas, share the details.

Other important ones could include specific software skills, commercial savviness, product knowledge and problem-solving skills.

Use the same language as the job description – if it mentions the key skills they’re looking for, state them clearly in your cover letter and back them up with examples.

Watch out for clichés and buzzwords like saying you’re highly-motivated, hard-working or a good team player. 

These are overused – you need to give concrete examples of these things if you have an important point to make, otherwise including these words won’t add anything.

How to write a cover letter for a retail assistant job

Step-by-step here’s how to write a retail assistant cover letter:

  1. Put your address in the top right corner, then the address of the business you’re applying to on the left hand side
  2. Do your research and look for the correct person to address your cover letter to. This could be the shop manager or a general hiring manager
  3. Don’t waffle – get to the point quickly and don’t be too formal
  4. Show how you can benefit their business. Expand on a few key highlights from your CV and explain why you want to work there
  5. Match your skills, experience and interests to the role you’re applying for – don’t undersell your achievements
  6. Invite them to contact you for further information or an interview and let them know where they can find your contact details – this will likely be your CV
  7. Sign off with ‘Yours sincerely’ if you know their name or ‘Yours faithfully’ if you don’t, then add your full name

That’s how we’ve structured our example cover letter for a retail assistant job too.

Writing a speculative retail assistant cover letter

A speculative cover letter with an accompanying CV is a great way of reaching out to employers when they’re not currently advertising vacancies.

Lots of positions are filled without ever being advertised – therefore, a speculative letter could be your way in with an employer you’ve got your eye on.

Research them thoroughly, address your letter to the right person and strike the right tone. 

Also, get straight to the point and don’t feel the need to apologise for your speculative application. 

However, avoid a hard sell – don’t be too pushy.

Writing a retail assistant CV

On your CV, use evidence to show your success in any previous work experience. Also, try to emphasise your people skills and problem-solving abilities.

You can include your hobbies and interests on your CV too, if you think it will show off your personality, or be a good fit for the retailer you’re applying to.

For example, if you’re applying for a role at a sports clothing shop, it may help to show that you enjoy going to the gym, doing yoga, running or playing sport in your spare time. To find out more about what you should include, read our guide to writing a retail CV.

Example cover letter for a retail assistant

Sarah Williamson

1 Piccadilly Road

Manchester, M1 1MN

11th January 2022

Mike Lacey


11 London Road

Manchester, M11 1PZ

Dear Mr Lacey,

I admire brands that put their customers first – that’s why I’m applying for the open retail assistant role at LIATER in Manchester. Your passion for providing industry-leading customer service, demonstrated by the UK Customer Satisfaction Award you received last year, matches my ambition to ensure customers have an outstanding experience. 

In my last role, on average customers gave me an ‘Excellent’ rating when leaving in-store feedback. I have exceptional people skills and am adept at handling queries as well as problem-solving, as confirmed by my manager in our most recent performance review.

With three years of retail experience, I have a proven track record of exceeding my sales quotas. After beating my target two years ago, last year it was raised by 15% – by focusing on adapting my sales approach to different customers, I improved my performance and went past my new target too.

Moreover, I enjoy all back-of-house duties including planning sales strategies, managing stock levels, taking inventory, preparing displays and arranging merchandising activities.

To summarise, I have a wide range of skills, a proven ability to exceed sales targets, plus a passion for first-class customer service. Thank you for considering me – I look forward to an opportunity to discuss the position further; please find my contact information in the attached CV. 

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Williamson 

Summary: how to write a retail assistant cover letter that gets read

Begin by researching the company, so you can tailor your cover letter and find out who to address it to.

Aim for a memorable introduction, then highlight your relevant skills and experience, backed up by specific examples.

End with a concise conclusion and a call to action – make sure you’ve included your contact details somewhere too.

Looking for some more tips? These are the five common mistakes in graduate cover letters – make sure you avoid these.

And if you need any help writing your cover letter for a retail assistant job, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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