10 reasons retail staff are the true heroes of Christmas

Photo displays a bustling shopping center full of Christmas shoppers walking passed a beautifully decorated tree.

Image credit: The wonderful Heidi SandStrom

Do you work in retail? If so, you’re a true saint. You really don’t get enough credit, especially when it comes to the festive season. No amount of team building, sales incentives and customer ‘bantz’ can get you through the busiest time of year.

It has been a long time since I’ve worked in retail, but I honestly have the utmost respect for those that do – particularly so in busy shopping centres.

As a customer, our onslaught of questions and demands ruin the festive spirit. If you’re not in retail and you’re out shopping for your loved ones, take a moment to thank those on the shop floor helping you find the perfect gift. They go through an awful lot!


They have heard all of these Christmas songs 20 times
You might enjoy belting out a bit of Mariah, but shop assistants have heard your favourite jingles 5 times before 12 o’clock and they have lost all their festive wonder.

I apologise on behalf of all Christmas shoppers for all the times a customer has tried to hit the high notes when ‘All I want for Christmas’ plays. Sometimes we sip a little too much mulled wine whilst doing our shopping.


They get blamed for the massive queue that leads out of the door
9 times out of 10, Christmas queues are cause by picky shoppers. People huff and puff whilst waiting in the queue and unfortunately it’s the till staff that get the blame.

Shoppers would be doing everyone a favour if they had their purse or card ready. Instead, customers decide to perform the macerana in front of everyone, desperately trying to pat every pocket to find their debit card. Once the final amount is given, they suddenly change their mind or want every item individually gift wrapped.


They miss all the festivities happening outside

Don’t ask a customer service assistant if they’ve been to the Christmas markets, or whether they’ve seen ‘that guy outside in the Olaf suit‘. They haven’t left the shop all day. They probably have so many shifts over the holidays that they struggle to see their friends and family, let alone the festivities just outside their shop.

It’s important to remember this when you hit up the boxing day sales in particular. Shoppers are ruthless and often forget that retail staff give up their family time so that customers can grab a bargain.


The stock room… it’s a mess

Do you have one in the back?” Such an innocent question that causes so much pain. It often takes a v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶ ̶ friendly customer service assistant a good 20 minutes to find a gift in the back. By the time they unearth themselves from the stock room the shop floor is so busy that it’s hard to remember who asked for the item in the first place.


They have to fight the thrifty
Why on earth do some customers expect Black Friday to occur every weekend?

Not only that, but some shoppers go as far as outright asking for a discount. You’d honestly be surprised how many people want staff to ‘do them a deal’ because they’re trying to buy all their presents in one place and get a discount bundle.

I get that budgeting is tough and the pressure is on at this time of year, but this makes customer service assistants feel extremely uncomfortable. In most cases they absolutely cannot help you, they don’t set the prices.


They spend hours making the shop look nice, only to see customers ruin it
Some customers just can’t help themselves. Merchandising doesn’t mean a thing when there’s no cheap gift sets left apart from the one in the window.

Customer service assistants are there to sell items, not clean up after you when you act like children to get what you want… Speaking of which…


They have to babysit unruly children
Look, it sounds brutal because some parents have no choice but to bring their kids along, but customer service assistants are not baby sitters.

This is an issue all year round, but the mixture of demanding customers, busy shop floors and toddlers destroying items becomes all too much at Christmas. One minute you’re being nice to their little one, the next you look up to find the parent half way down the isle expecting staff to look after their child until they get back.


Their hands are covered in cuts from gift wrapping
I mentioned the queues, right? Well, try gift wrapping as neatly as possible when there’s a line of 20 people waiting. Retail staff don’t just suffer mental strain, there’s serious physical injury too. Craft scissors and tired hands don’t make a great combination.


They have to handle a huge amount of theft

Not only do they have to track down the best gifts ever, Christmas retail staff also need to have FBI grade intuition to catch bad guys lurking on the shop floor. I remember working at Lush and my heart honestly broke every time someone stole a gift. As I mentioned before I do understand that people struggle at Christmas, but stealing hundreds of pounds worth of gifts is ridiculous and comes down to pure greed.

The lengths people will go to scam you at Christmas is truly unbelievable. There’s the ones who conduct receipt & return scams and those that blatantly stuff items under their coat and leg it. At this time of year, shop assistants really do become the little superheroes of the consumer world!


They have to put on a fake smile
Christmas cheer. Would you be cheerful if you had to put up with all of this!?

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31 Comments

  1. December 18, 2015 / 6:26 am

    Haha I couldn’t agree more with this post! I worked in retail during Christmas a couple years and it was insanity!

    thesundaychapter.com

  2. November 13, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    Worked in retail as well and always keep that in mind whenever I shop at a store. Showing kindness to a retail worker goes a long way and often gets you excellent service.

  3. November 13, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    This is absolutely correct! I use to work in retail and the worst part was around the holidays – dealing with high stressed people. I do not miss those days but I love this post because you are appreciating those employees in an enlighting but comical way!

  4. November 13, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    I worked in a Supermarket in my teens and oh my goodness I used to hate Christmas, it was awful and people seemed to forget all their manners, I always try and stay polite to everyone in retail no matter how frazzled I feel it isn’t there fault!

  5. November 13, 2017 / 10:13 pm

    This is so true they are saints I’m not sure how I’d cope in retail during the Christmas period it must be such hard work.

  6. November 13, 2017 / 10:45 pm

    Haha so true! I used to work in retail and Christmas was hard work!! I used to dread the week before Christmas, it was CRAZY busy!

  7. November 13, 2017 / 10:58 pm

    Haha yes I can imagine that listening to Christmas songs for 12 hours a day every will make them become anti Christmas haha! Poor things it must be manic x

  8. Hannah
    November 14, 2017 / 12:01 am

    I work in retail so i can definitely relate to all of these

  9. November 14, 2017 / 1:07 am

    I’m always so thankful to store staff over the christmas period, it sounds like such a hard job xxx

  10. November 14, 2017 / 9:10 am

    Such a great well thought out post, it must definitely be hard to work in retail at this time of year.

  11. November 14, 2017 / 10:32 am

    I worked in a jewellers for 8 Christmas’ and I can relate to every single one of these. I had to get into the habit of doing all my shopping by the end of November as I’d have no time in December as I’d always be working x

  12. Joanna
    November 14, 2017 / 10:35 am

    I can’t imagine how someone can listen to all those Christmas songs all day long. It must be torture! They are indeed brave people for keeping calm and smiling to each customer.

  13. November 14, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    I can’t imagine what its like because Christmas can get so busy! I am not a big fan of Christmas songs so hearing them over again must be just awful

  14. November 14, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    I’ve worked in retail during christmas and it is by far one of the most challenging jobs to do! I always make sure I smile to those working now as it’s so hard. No one wants to listen to the same christmas song all day x

  15. November 14, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    I could not agree more. I would not want to do it. Long hours, Sunday working, working all through the festive season in what can be a stressful climate x

  16. November 14, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    I used to work at Boots during the Xmas period and it was MANIC! Definitely think that people who work retail long term need a medal!

  17. November 14, 2017 / 4:09 pm

    What a great post – and so true!! I can imagine hearing Christmas songs all day every day would be so annoying! Although I do love them, haha!

  18. November 14, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    hahah oh my god, so so true!! Hats off to them!

  19. November 14, 2017 / 6:00 pm

    Ha ha great post, I can’t even imagine what listening to those same Christmas tunes over and over does to a person!

  20. November 14, 2017 / 6:05 pm

    I work in retail and honestly I spend ages facing up making it all look pretty, I actually really enjoy it. Thank goodness my store doesn’t play music so NO Mariah Carey or Slade for me x

  21. November 14, 2017 / 7:06 pm

    Having worked in hospitality at Christmas time, I have to say they also deserve praise. Even at Christmas people will still find things to complain about! My sister worked in retail for a couple of years and dreaded the christmas period!

  22. November 14, 2017 / 11:49 pm

    Yes, this completely! I used to own a jewellery shop and totally agree retail staff do so much at Christmas time and get treated so rubbish by the public when they deserve plenty of praise!

  23. November 15, 2017 / 8:06 am

    Ha, I’m loving the extremely appropriate gifs. I can’t imagine hearing Christmas songs daily on a loop. On the positive side you’d know all the words though lol. Not sure I could cope in that line of work.

  24. November 15, 2017 / 7:15 pm

    This year for xmas I’m the manager so I decided to leave the bulk of the Xmas stock downstairs so my staff don’t have to spent the last few weeks of December running up and down the stairs.

  25. November 15, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    This is so true! I always think how much stress it must be for people working in retail x

  26. November 16, 2017 / 7:55 am

    THis is so true! My mummy used to work in GAP and the songs used to drive her crazy!!

  27. November 16, 2017 / 11:15 am

    my husband never gets holidays either, its a shame that retail dont go like they ised to , it used to be a thing where sundays would be rest day and now those dont even exist

  28. November 16, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    This is hilarious, but so true! Poor retail workers definitely don’t get the credit that they should.

  29. November 16, 2017 / 9:52 pm

    Having worked retail in December I feel this. However the Christmas songs on repeat were the only thing that pulled me through when I wanted to cry during my shift.

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