Retail… where to begin? Most of us at some point or another have worked in the retail environment. Long hours, few breaks, annoying customers and the need to miss out on public holidays are just some of the struggles you endure. Unfortunately, pay is typically low.
While we would be here all day if we were to reel off the entire list of struggles a retail worker faces, instead we take a look at some of the most common struggles.
1When Customers complain about Prices
What part of my appearance as a person behind the till suggests that I am personally responsible for setting the prices?
This won’t stop customers from complaining to you about the prices.
2The Myth of “Out the Back”
We’ve all been there – a customer can’t find an item, typically because it sold out a long time ago.
But despite you informing the customer that you know the requested item is no longer in stock, they urge you to have a look “out the back” just in case it is there.
It seems that customers seem to think that there is an Amazon warehouse adjoined to every store. At least you get to go out back and have a quick break while “looking” for the item.
3When Customers mess up your display
There are three certainties in life – death, taxes, and the fact that no customer can simply pick up an item, place it in their trolley and walk on without grabbing the item in a way that messes up the display around it.
In doing so, a minor earthquake is caused to the surrounding area, meaning a clean-up is necessary.
So there you are, going about your day normally and greeting all those that venture to your till.
But before you know it, there is someone that grumpily won’t even acknowledge your presence. Putting up with people who don’t have basic manners is frustrating to say the least.
5Having to be everything to everyone
To work in retail you have to be a comedian, a listener, a good communicator, a Hedge Fund Manager… you basically need to be a jack of all trades.
You are expected to have knowledge of every last product in the store, their exact price, and where the item is located.
6The Early Starts
An inevitable part of retail is the early start. The process of setting a 5am alarm for a Sunday morning is a painful one.
As you walk or drive to work and see all of the curtains pulled – with everyone else enjoying a lie-in – you get incredibly jealous.
7Listening to life stories and anecdotes
While many customers will pay for their items and move on, there are always others that decide they want to share their life story with the cashier.
You hear about everything from their first word, to their college achievements, to tales from their workplace. All of this of course happens as an ever-increasing queue builds.
Unfortunately, while these stories can be interesting, there is a time and a place for them.
You are either overstaffed or understaffed – there is simply no inbetween.
At times where multiple cashiers are needed, the store is conveniently understaffed. A couple hours later when just a few customers are in the store, the cavalry arrives.
9Those that get excited about Chritmas in March
It is part-and-parcel of the retail industry that at least one of your co-workers will get incredibly excited for Christmas early.
While getting Christmas stock into the store in August is difficult enough to stomach, having to listen to Christmas songs from March onwards is enough to send anyone crazy.
10Thinking your small shop is a Walmart
Regardless of the size of your store, there are always customers who seem to expect that your store should be as well-stocked as the nearby Walmart.
Having to politely inform the customer that your store doesn’t sell the item they have requested usually gets a furious response – something that frankly, you could do without.
11Customers not putting their cash in your outstretched hand
Okay, so we just put our hands out at the time of payment for a bit of fun.
For some reason, many customers will neglect the ease of putting their cash into your hand, instead slamming it down on the till.
That awkward moment of having to gradually withdraw your hand can be a low-point of any shift.
12Those that come in five minutes before closing time
After a long hard shift, it is perfectly acceptable to want to just get home and put your feet up.
Yet many customers choose to charge into the store with just minutes left until closing, perfectly ignorant and oblivious to the fact that you are moments away from shutting.
It is almost as if you don’t have a life.
13Listening to jokes
Every customer seems to think they are a comedian. But time after time, you are told the same jokes. They weren’t funny the first time, and they certainly aren’t at the fiftieth time of hearing.
Classics include when a loyalty card is swiped, the customer saying “every little helps I suppose”, or when an item doesn’t scan, it apparently should be free.
14Being treated like a second-class citizen
Sure, retail isn’t the most glamorous job, but this is no excuse for customers to treat you as if you are beneath them.
It seems like some people just come into the store to belittle members of staff, and generally take out their anger on what they see as easy targets.
15The need to withhold your aggression
All of the struggles so far that we have outlined will make you angry, and wanting to answer back to customers, be blunt with them, or just ignore them.
But unfortunately you can’t, and the anger builds up throughout the shift. Having to withhold your anger while being polite truly is difficult.
16Trying not to laugh when a customer hits you with the “Well I’m never shopping here again” line
You’ve probably heard this line so many times before. It is usually said over something pointless as well. You really don’t care, and if anything are pleased, as you no longer need to deal with their rudeness.
Nine times out of ten anyway, they’ll return to the store within the next few days, typically with their tail between their legs.
You know the type – the person that asks for the manager at the first sign of trouble, demand to be the centre of attention, and generally, act like an entitled brat.
Having to put up with them is difficult, and takes real skill. These are the worst customers to have to deal with, and that’s saying something.
18Missing out on weekends
One of the most painful elements of retail is having to miss out on weekends.
Many of your friends will work a regular Monday-Friday role, and socialise at weekends. Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on a lot because of weekend work.
19Eating away your wages
Whether it be a trip down to the burger joint at lunch, or buying food from the very store you work in, you’ll find that you end up eating away some of your wages.
After all, bringing in a packed lunch would be far too easy. Even if you have prepared one, you will often “forget” it.
20Not being appreciated
Ultimately, without retail workers, the world would grind to a halt. But are retail workers appreciated? Unfortunately, no.
But we value retail workers, and we hope you know that what you do may not be glamorous, but it is an integral part in keeping the world running smoothly.
Retail workers, we salute you!