The retail sector has become a major service provider and employs a large proportion of the population. It is the expectations and of these retail employees that form the background to this research. Retail employment has often been the selected response to unemployment as there is relatively little or no prior skill required to work in this sector. Retail employment is traditionally viewed as employment with little or no stability and low quality of employment. In order to examine the link between high growth in the retail sector and its contribution to GDP and the high unemployment rate identified in the country, the stability and quality of employment in the retail sector were analysed. The research aimed to identify the characteristics of retail employees based on where they are currently along their career path and life choices, and how these factors influence their future aspirations. A conceptual framework outlining the stability and quality of employment in the retail sector was created to analyse the shift required from the prevalent emphasis on fighting unemployment, to fostering employment growth. The different characteristics of these employees were identified in order to assist stakeholders such as individuals, management and policymakers, to identify the optimum way to encourage employment growth, depending on future aspirations of employees. This would thereby shift the focus rather from acting reactively to unemployment issues, to acting proactively by nurturing employment growth.