Skillsmart Retail's 2009 survey showed a marked improvement in perceptions of the retail industry, with the number of advisors rating it as the best career choice rising from 13% in 2004 to 21%.
The sector skills council put the rise down to the combined effect of the economic downturn and retailers' efforts to make careers in the sector more appealing. CEO Anne Seaman said: "Over the past few years retailers have made a big effort to reward their staff and recognise their contributions through increased pay and benefits or recognising achievements through qualifications and apprenticeships."
The study coincides with the announcement that employees will have the right to request time for training under new rules which come into force next year.
Skills Minister Kevin Brennan said the move was intended to empower people to gain the skills and training they need.
The right to training will be made available to workers in organisations with 250 or more employees from April 2010, before being extended to all employees from April 2011.