6 Things I Learned Working in Retail
What I learned in retail school is...
It's the holiday season; a time where family and friends come together to celebrate their respective festivities, give and receive gifts, and take time to relax. It's also the time of year that people go into stores acting like everything is the associate's fault. I worked in retail for almost 2 years, and sure enough, every year for Black Friday and Christmas shopping people tend to fly off the handle. In my time working in sales, I've acquired quite a few realizations about people and this type of business in general.
1.) People actually steal from just about any store they can.
All the scary stories you hear about shoplifting is sadly true. There were three instances that honestly shocked the hell out of me. First, when I witnessed a man putting a pair of jeans down his pants; second, when a woman walked out of the store with a literal armful of baby clothes; and third, when a woman was forced to take jewelry that she was trying to steal out of her lady regions. This is real stuff, people.
2.) Some customers genuinely want someone to blame.
I've been yelled at for something not being marked down correctly; for my store not having the size they needed; for refusing to accept expired coupons; for saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"; and much more.
Sometimes, people are just having a really bad day and decide to flip out on an innocent associate for the most ridiculous things. Not everyone acts this way, but you'd be surprised just how many do.
3.) You really have to pick and choose your battles.
When a customer wants to go on and on about something completely beyond your control (like store policies, or pricing), you just have to force a smile, keep up your customer service voice, and offer to call for a manager.
Sometimes, you just have to let a manager take care of it because they don't want to listen to an associate even though the manager will tell them the exact same thing. Some people are not worth losing your Christmas cool over.
4.) People do not care if you just cleaned up in an area.
They don't care if you just folded that table, or sized and organized that rack, or just got the fitting room to a decent state. Most people just say "It's their job" and move on. Like yes, it's my job. But please do not make my job harder than it has to be. Believe it or not, I have a million and one other things to do than go right behind you to clean your mess.
5.) People also don't always reach the trash can, or the bathroom.
I cannot tell you how many times I've thrown away empty cups, cans, bags, food, etcetera off the floor and shelves. I once witnessed a coworker carry a USED feminine pad out of a fitting room. You heard me. USED. I once also saw my manager call for maintenance because someone peed on the fitting room floor, and all over some merchandise. Like people, the bathroom is like right there.
6.) When checking out, some people think that your time is solely dedicated to them.
Sometimes, customers will demand your undivided attention. Whether it's due to them having a complicated check out (multiple coupons/transactions, things to be changed in the system, no tags, etc.) or because they just think they're that special.
A customer I was checking out once asked to speak to my manager because I paused in the middle of her transaction to tell a customer where to find a certain type of clothing she was looking for. I was the only one at the register, and no one else was around, so I was the only one that could help her. But, this lady decided that my customer service to anyone else didn't matter.
My point of all this is, please don't make store employees' jobs more difficult. They're already having to spend time away from their families to take care of your shopping needs.
So, pick up your trash; go to the bathroom IN the bathroom; understand that they're busy and all over the place; don't shoplift, and just be nice to them in general. They've dealt with plenty of people like this all day.