7 Reasons Why Working in Retail is Challenging

At some point in our lives, many of us have worked as retail staff. It’s a job like any other, but with a lot of specific challenges that can make it both delightful and infuriating. Whether you work in a big-name store or a small independent shop, dealing with customers can be a rollercoaster of emotions. Here are 18 things you probably didn’t know about being a retail worker.

1. We can’t change the price for you.

No matter how nice, flirty, or angry you get, we can’t change the price for you. We’re not the ones who set the prices; it’s usually the retail company or manufacturer. If you’re unhappy with the price, you can try calling the head office and persuading someone there to give you a discount.

2. We often have terrible schedules.

Working retail often means unpredictable schedules, which can make it difficult to plan your social life or even get enough rest. Workers may have to work “closeness,” which means closing late and having to open the store early the following day, leaving just a few hours for rest.

3. We don’t like telling you that your card was declined.

We understand that the situation can be embarrassing for both us and the customer, but it’s never fun to see someone’s card declined. We’re probably making a strange face because we’re trying not to show our feelings.

4. We know about your complaints to other workers.

Don’t try to “rat us out” to other retail workers. You’re not going to get anywhere by complaining to someone else about us. Plus, working retail teaches us to be patient, kind, and tolerant toward our co-workers, even the annoying ones.

5. We don’t know every single item in the store by heart.

It’s impossible for us to memorize the details of every single product in the store. So, if you want to ask us about a particular item, make sure you have the product code or some specifics, so we can help you efficiently.

6. We hate it when you come five minutes before closing.

Even if you have a job with fixed working hours, we do too. We want to help, but when you come in five minutes before closing, you’re likely to stay for an hour, which means we’ll only have a few hours of rest until we have to get back to work.

7. We are okay with refunds, but it does not always mean you will get one.

We understand that you might want to return an item, but there are policies and regulations that we have to follow. Items like undergarments or gift cards cannot be returned, and items returned beyond the return policy warranty might not be eligible for a refund. Spare everyone from making a scene before carefully reading the return/refund policy.

8. We are used to most of your usual “threats.”

We’ve heard all of the typical complaints before, such as “I’ll shop somewhere else” or “I’ll speak to the manager.” Being rude and aggressive won’t get you anywhere, so please be patient and explain the issue calmly. We’re more likely to help you if you’re nice to us.

9. We hate add-on sales, too.

One of the most challenging parts of retail work is having to offer add-on sales, which means smiling and trying to convince you to buy something that you may not need. But please, don’t feel obligated to buy anything you don’t want or need.

10. We have certain issues when it comes to making a payment.

We know that coins are money too, but counting a mountain of change can be frustrating, particularly when there are other impatient customers waiting in line. And when someone asks to pay part card and part cash for a $15 purchase, it can make our job incredibly complicated.

11. We wish you would just ask us for a size.

It’s a lot easier for us to bring you the right size than it is to refold all of the sweaters you’ve just messed up. Please remember that our job is to keep the store looking nice and organized, so we appreciate it when you ask us for help finding the right size.

12. We perfectly know the consumer law.

As retail workers, we’re well aware of consumer laws and regulations. We’re happy to help you navigate them, but please make sure you know what you’re talking about before you try to show off your legal knowledge.

13. We don’t like unsupervised children.

While we love kids, having them in the store without supervision can make it challenging to maintain a safe and organized environment. Parents who are glued to their phones or not paying attention to their children can result in major accidents or messes.

14. We notice when you ruin an item with your makeup.

Please be careful not to get makeup on the garments when trying them on. If it does happen, don’t try to score a discount because you’ve been careless. We’ve seen it all, and it’s better just to ask us for tips on removing makeup stains.

15. We can’t control everything.

There are some things that we can’t control. For example, we can’t give you something from the floor stock or an item that another customer has on hold. We’re there to sell you things, so don’t assume that we’re hiding stock from you.

16. We don’t size the products.

We’re happy to help you find the right size, but we can’t make smaller sizes fit you if they don’t. It’s okay to go up a size if you need to. We want to help you feel confident and comfortable.

17. We hate it when people leave things where they don’t belong.

It’s important to remember that we have to organize the store and make it look presentable. Leaving items that you don’t want in random places makes our job more difficult.

18. We try very hard to cater to everyone, but…

We try our best to attend to everyone’s needs, but sometimes it’s just not possible. We’re not superhuman, and we can’t attend to everyone at once, so please be patient with us.

In conclusion, working in retail can be a real challenge, but it can also be rewarding. While customers may not always recognize it, retail workers put in long hours and often face unpredictable schedules. So the next time you’re at the store, please remember to be patient and understanding when dealing with retail staff. It might make their day a little easier.

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