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!?