Luckily I no longer work in retail, but here are some of the things that retail workers have to put up with, and reasons why you should give them a break.
1. Ridiculous hours. Just because the store closes at a certain time, it doesn’t mean we can leave.
Oh no.. We will be here another hour or so after, tidying up the mess you shoppers have made. 5am starts one day, to a midnight finish the next. And don’t forget the overnight shifts. Replenishing stock, dressing mannequins, moving everything around. It’s no walk in the park.
2. Inconsiderate customers.
They can see you tidying up a certain area, and will come over to pick things up and then drop them again, making no attempt to fold it or put it back how it was. Thanks for that.
3. Till trouble. There is a massive que at the tills, and it always seems to be your customers that have the most items. They chuck it all on your till, and then present you with out of date vouchers, cards that decline, and then eventually end up paying in annoyingly small change, whilst you have to stand there and be patient.
4. An aching body. We are on our feet all day. And I mean all day. We can’t sit down when we fancy and have a little rest. We are forced to stay on our feet looking presentable to meet and help the customers.
5. Christmas hours. It would be amazing for us to have a few days off over Christmas but no. Boxing Day sales are madness and we are forced to work them, starting at 5-6am of course!
6. Everything is our fault. Why don’t you have this item left in my size? How ridiculous! Blah blah blah.
It’s not our fault, we are here to help you, but we don’t control the stock levels. I’m sorry we don’t have it but please don’t shout at me.
7. Lunch breaks are never taken. Just as you clock out to go on your break, you can guarantee, that when your walking through the shop floor to go out and get something to eat, that you will be stopped by customers and quizzed about an item. I’m on my break! Can’t you see I have my personal belongings with me?
8. No toilet breaks. We can’t just nip to the loo if we need it. We have to wait until another member of staff can cover our position. And believe me, it’s never straight away. If your short staffed you may even have to wait until the next person starts their shift.
9. You have to look good. If working in a fashion store, with most you have to wear their new products to promote them. You must always look good. You can’t come in looking untidy or there will be a problem.
10. You don’t get a weekend. It’s alright for the ones who have a 9-5 weekday job, but for retail workers we can’t choose our hours. We get what we’re given, which means unsociable hours and working weekends, whilst our family and friends are at home relaxing or out having fun.
11. Smiling. Even if we are ill, have just found out we can’t have that weekend off we wanted or have just been verbally abused by a customer, we must still smile and be over enthusiastic.
12. Low pay. We work long hours, for a very low pay.
13. We have many jobs. We come in for a shift, and don’t even know what it is we will be doing. We could be on the tills, in the stock room, on the fitting rooms, at the front of the store greeting people, or any other job that we are given.
14. We are also cleaners. If a child is in the store and spills their drink everywhere then we have to clean it up. If you decide to drop litter then we also have to pick up after you.
15. We are expected to be available at all times. If we have a day off, we can expect a call from our manager asking us to come in as a colleague has called in sick.
16. We never leave on time. We are due to finish our shift at 8pm, but are stuck with a customer, or on the tills with a big que and no one to take over our position.
17. The music. There is normally one or two cd’s that are played on loop throughout the day, which means we are hearing the same song over and over again driving us insane.
18. Flirty customers. Just because we have helped you find an outfit that is right for you, and given our opinion on the clothing you have tried on, does not mean we are into you. It’s our job to be polite.
19. Crying children. Children that are running riot around the store, and then throwing a tantrum and screaming whilst you are trying to help a customer or concentrate on what you are doing.
20. Messy fitting rooms. It is unbelievable the amount of clothes that people try on and then dump in the doing room without the decency to hand it back to a member of staff. Let alone the litter they leave behind.
So next time you are out shopping and they don’t have your size, or you feel the need to complain about something; just stop for a second and think about the people you are complaining too. Retail workers are human too, and only put up with bad treatment because it is their job to help you.