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The Best Gifts you can Give to Retail Workers This Christmas

A retail workers Christmas wish-list

By Rachel M.JPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
The Best Gifts you can Give to Retail Workers This Christmas
Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

"You're ruining my Son's Christmas!"

Is the name of my favourite retail themed Christmas carol. It might not be an official title from the books, but it plays on repeat every December. I can't seem to find it on Spotify, but I swear I've heard it a hundred times... now where did I hear that?

Oh yes, I remember! At work, every year for the last seven years.

It's something that late shoppers like to say to retail workers when we bring any form of slightly disappointing news, such as 'we're out of stock', 'that item has been delayed', or even 'sorry, we're closed.' We deal with a lot. Not only do we have to please every customer that walks through our door, but we have to keep management happy, as well. This is no easy task - but every single customer has the capacity to make this task just a little bit easier, and the opportunity to reset the timer on our customer service smiles, so that they can remain for the entirety of the Christmas period.

It's easy!

And I've made it even easier by compiling a short Christmas Wish-List for your perusal. Read it carefully, because you might just be in a position to make or break someone's holiday season...

Don't Leave it to the Last Minute

Retailers for most stores will have to work Christmas Eve. Believe me when I tell you; we don't want to. No, I don't think you understand. We really don't want to. Some will even be rostered on over-night - sacrificing their time that they would rather spend with family and friends in the name of helping others. At this point, retail workers have accepted that Christmas simply isn't for them. It's for the people who are lucky enough to work conventional jobs

The most substantial gift that you can give to a retail worker is to ensure that you have your shopping done before Christmas Eve at the very least. It's not much to ask, especially considering the sacrifice that the worker is making for the sake of your convenience.

Don't Blame us for low Stock

The stock-room of a retail store is like a fridge. No matter how many times you open and close that door, a candy-bar isn't going to spontaneously materialise in place of your pre-cooked quinoa salad. So if we tell you we're out of stock, double-checking isn't going to make it suddenly appear.

I promise you, we didn't run to the manufacturer and ask them to make less of a certain product specifically because we saw you coming. Most of us aren't even given the authority to order stock, and even if we were we wouldn't be able to order items that haven't even been made yet - I'm looking at you Ps5 and Xbox Series X customers! For some products, they're simply aren't enough to go around, so please don't take it out on those who have no control over the manufacturing process.

Don't Complain About Christmas

Please don't come into our store on one of the busiest days of the year and tell us about how 'above Christmas' you are. It's okay to be a Grinch - I get it - but keep the complaints to a minimum, because the negativity can be contagious, and it certainly won't help us get through our shift any faster.

We spend the week before Christmas in a sporadic environment that constantly shifts between intense positivity and shocking bouts of verbal abuse. It's a lucky dip - we never know what each new customer is going to bring. If it were up to me, it would be Christmas joy all 'round. I don't want to hear a slew of disgruntled story times from angry shoppers, when all I'm trying to do is to stay positive until the end of my shift.

Do Wish us Happy Holidays

Regardless of if the person celebrates Christmas, it's always nice to be on the receiving end of well wishes. A warm smile from a customer is akin to a sip of hot-coco on a winters day - It can be genuinely revitalising, especially for the worker who has been on the receiving end of sporadic verbal abuse.

Every-time you walk into a store you have the opportunity to be a moments reprieve for a stressed-out worker. Of course, not all of us are the same, so, read the room and meet the worker on their level. Maybe they want to take a moment to work in silence, or maybe they've been dying to talk about their Christmas plans - let them! Retail workers spend all day adapting to the needs of their customers. We don't usually expect the same in return, but it would be nice to be on the receiving end of the empathy for a change.

Have Your Bank Card and Items Ready

Dear Lord, if I had a dollar for every dirty-look I received for taking 'too long' with a single customer, I'd actually be profiting off of the Christmas period. When you start digging into your purse to track down an old gift card or a loyalty card that you haven't used since you signed up, there is a line of customers congregating behind you, and they are all equipped with glares specifically for me.

Count-intuitive - I know - but I didn't get into retail for the sense of it all. When you aren't prepared, the following customers take their anger out on the worker. They tell us we're under-staffed... I also wish I had a dollar every-time I heard that, but CEO's aren't in the business of paying well, so please take it up with them, and in the mean-time 1. know what you've come here for, 2. have your items ready to scan, and 3. leave your queries for google.

Don't Expect us to be Your Personal Shoppers

One of my favourite things about working in a game store is helping customers find their perfect game or console. It's a genuinely fun thing to do... except during Christmas. Christmas is notorious for clueless customers waltzing in and treating you like an encyclopaedia. This is okay... when there isn't a line of 20 people watching on and tapping their feet impatiently.

Come in during the slower periods to ask all your questions, or at the very least do some of your own research before relying on the customer service, because as much as I would love to be your personal shopper, the reality is my pay-rate doesn't cover it, and I simply don't have the time to do this for everyone.

Skip the Boxing Day Sale

If I had my way retailers would be closed on the day before, the day of, and the day after Christmas. Now, before you tell me that boxing day is important because it gives good salary my simple rebuttal would be that I would rather have a good salary all year round... not just as compensation for working on the worst day of the year.

If you can manage it, save your shopping for the day after boxing day - most boxing day sales go for a week now, so you're not going to miss out on too much by not partaking on day one. Alternatively, keep your shopping limited to online orders - the less walk in customers, the less stress for everyone.

Recognise the Skill That is Required for Retail Work

People tend to overlook the abuse that retail workers face on a regular basis. They assume that since the job isn't prestigious that it is easy, and sure, without the human aspect of the work it can be pretty straight forward, but consider this; when working in a retail store we aren't just dealing with one difficult client; we're dealing with one hundred ticking time bombs, every day.

It takes a lot of resilience and adaptability to greet each customers with a smile after being on the receiving end of accusations, anger, disrespect, and sometimes sexual harassment. So yes, maybe it's annoying when the sales clerk approaches you when you clearly want to be left alone - but keep in mind that the person who came into the store before you might have been equally annoyed about not being approached. Every customer is different and whilst we might try to adapt our approach to every new face, we can't always get it right.

So if you have some spare change this holiday season, I urge you to spend it on a generous serve of patience, empathy, and preparedness. Offer us a smile as well (on the house) so that we all might go home a little happier this Christmas Eve.

Oh, and candy-canes... you can bring us candy-canes.

By Jonathan Borba on Unsplash


About the Creator

Rachel M.J

Magical realist

I like to write about things behaving how they shouldn't ~

Instagram: Rachel M.J

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