We’re past Black Friday and into Cyber Monday, so it’s officially the holiday shopping season! Fun fact about me: I worked retail for YEARS before I started working in marketing/event planning. I worked with national retailers and small businesses, from fashion boutiques to specialty stores, as a floor worker and a manager. I also have a lot of friends and family that currently work in the retail and service industry. I don’t know everything about retail but I do know one thing for sure- working retail is one of the toughest jobs out there.
As a retail worker, you wear a lot of hats. A LOT of hats. You have to be a good communicator, a customer service representative, an IT specialist, a personal shopper… if something needs to be done, you do it. You’re also constantly on your feet, doing a hundred different jobs all at one time, and there is no margin for error. There’s no room for bad days because all it takes is one mistake to send someone straight to Yelp to write a scathing review. I’ll say it again- working retail is tough, in store AND online. All this said, this is all just a regular day working retail. Add in constant rolling sales, daily shipments, and just a hint of chaos and yelling, and that’s working retail over the holidays.
If you have ever worked or currently work in retail or the service industry, you already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, here are some things to remember as you start your holiday shopping (and just a few good rules in general for living life):
- Be patient. You’re in a hurry? Great! So is LITERALLY everyone else. Being in a hurry doesn’t give you an excuse to turn into a rage monster. And yes, it might be silly that most stores start playing Christmas music before Halloween, but getting upset at an associate isn’t going to change that. Fun fact: Most places don’t even control their own music- it’s all scheduled and controlled by their corporate office. An associate can help you find a sweater in your size, but they aren’t there to hear you complain about how you don’t like their music or the color of the dressing room walls. Leave your petty noise at home.
- Be kind. During the holidays, lines might move slower, aisles might look crazier, and shelves might be a little out of order. Huffing and puffing isn’t going to make anyone move any faster, and it isn’t going to help an associate find your item or ring you up any faster. There is literally nothing more cringeworthy than watching an adult have a toddler-sized tantrum in the checkout line. Here’s a good rule of thumb- if you wouldn’t act a certain way to your mom or your grandma, you probably shouldn’t be doing it in the checkout line at Target.
- Be good. See someone struggling? Give them a hand. See an associate already assisting someone else? Wait until they’re available, or see if you can find someone else to help you. Cutting in line, digging through a display and not putting things back, yelling, shoplifting- I shouldn’t have to say it, but DON’T DO IT, Y’ALL! The holidays are all about giving back, doing good things for others, and being thankful. Keep all of these things in mind when you’re out shopping for the people you love!
- Be thoughtful. Did you know that most retail employees have to come in before their shift starts to open registers, set the floor, and get ready for the day? Maybe you did, but did you also know that most employees also have to stay hours after their shifts (especially on the holidays) to clean up and reset their store? Specials and sales are constantly changing. I once worked somewhere where the promotions changed EVERY DAY in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Take time to think before you speak and act- more than likely you’re shopping for other people on your list, so have that thoughtful attitude while you’re out and about. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I’ll say it again. Treat others the way YOU want to be treated.
- Be thankful. Retail workers are on their feet all day, every day, constantly helping people- it’s an incredibly thankless job. If someone helps you, tell them THANK YOU. If someone goes above and beyond for you, take the time to write a nice review on Google or Yelp or Facebook. If you see an employee doing something good, tell a manager. Make conversation when you’re at the checkout- little things like this help a shift go by faster! Remember, even small gestures make big impacts. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so make it wonderful for someone else!
The holidays can be ridiculously stressful, and trying to find gifts for everyone on your list can be a challenge. Always remember that gifts are great, but good attitudes are even better. Don’t make yourself miserable- it’s contagious.
But then again, so is happiness. It’s your choice. Shout out to all the business owners, managers, associates, stylists, servers- anyone who is out there working retail right now. You are the real MVPs.
Be patient. Be kind. Be good. Be thoughtful. Be thankful.
Happy Holidays, y’all.