You haven’t experienced hell until you’ve worked in retail

How do so many people not know how to use hangers?


Working in retail sucks. Walking into work can be like entering the seventh circle of hell, especially during summer when the air-con is guaranteed to break.

Whether you work in a designer studio store or you’re stuck in your local Topshop, these are the struggles every retail worker can relate to.

Some people really are sad enough to wait for you to open

Pretty much nowhere opens its doors before 9am. It’s a given. Yet every day as you make your way in you see a gaggle of the super keen bopping up and down outside, as if  if they make enough noise you’ll open the doors faster.

We won’t. It’s early and I’m horrifically hungover. Go back home and wait till a civilised hour like a normal person.

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Every damn day

Your cheeks will hurt from keeping up a forced smile

“Look happy,” your manager says: “The customers buy more if the staff look happy.”

No-one believes that, and you know for sure when you’re looking for a new jacket you don’t give a toss if the assistant sorting hangers gives you a smile. But still, you have to keep a plastic grin plastered on your face for hours on end.

When you get home people accuse you of having resting bitch face, but in actual fact it’s just your lips collapsing from the effort of staying perky all day.

You will become weirdly defensive over your stand/area

You spend eight hours a day looking after this space, making sure it’s clean, tidy and presentable – and some people just don’t seem to care.

Every customer who walks past wants to grab hold of things and move them around and mess up your beautiful display. The moment you see someone approaching your eyes go red and it’s a struggle to stay calm.

But still, after they inevitably mess everything up, at least you have something to keep you busy again.

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You’ll walk around with products just to look busy

No shame. We’ve all done it.

You’ll come to realise you  hate all children

They come in, all smiles and happiness, and oh aren’t they cute and adorable and oh God one of them just pissed themselves.

Soon their sticky fingers begin to pull your products off the shelves, rip clothes from their hangers and dump them on the floor, leaving a trail of chaos in their wake. Then they’ll start to cry, and you’ll want to join them.

You never have enough stock of the popular items

Lucy saw this dress in Cosmo and thought it was super cute. She wants it for her “girls night out.” She travelled all the way to your store from out of town just to get this dress because “you’re a big store, you should have it.”

Unfortunately for Lucy, about 200 other girls already did the exact same thing as her, so the dress is gone. No, really. Lucy doesn’t think that’s fair and thinks you should get more. You tell Lucy you’re not magic, it doesn’t work like that.

Lucy demands to speak to your manager. Lucy can fuck off.

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Customers won’t believe you when you say you’re out of something

You told Lucy you’d run out. Your manager told Lucy you’d run out. It’s almost as if you guys know what you’re talking about.

But no, she still makes you go into the stock room, just to “double check.” You won’t tell her you just spent the five minutes in there replying to the group chat. It’s not your time she’s wasting.

Customers yelling at you will become a regular occurrence

Some man is yelling obscenities about his shoe size not being in stock, but you honestly couldn’t give a damn. In your head you’re on a beach in Bali sipping Pina Coladas and having a great time. You can’t even hear him any more. You just nod at appropriate moments and assure him you’ll tell the manager.

You won’t – you’ll just laugh at him in the break room with your friends. He doesn’t need to know that.

The stock room will become your sanctuary

When angry customers are roving about and you’re honestly just fed up with standing, the stock room has your back. You can hide among the piles of boxes or racks of clothes and for a few minutes, just breathe.

Forging a bed out of fallen products has appealed to you more than once, as has stashing a bottle of Smirnoff. Most days you don’t know which you need more.

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Your manager will either be your best friend or arch nemesis – there is no in between

Sometimes they’re like the cool older sibling you never had: taking the team for drinks after work and hanging with you in the break room.

Sometimes they’re like Satan’s cranky step-kid and you feel their eyes burning into your very soul. Either way, they’ll probably get drunk and make a tit of themselves at the Christmas party. It’s the little things.

There’s nothing worse than people who don’t use hangers properly

Hang your stuff up after fitting rooms, for the love of God, or I will destroy everything and everyone you love.

Seriously, it’s a pair of jeans, it’s not difficult to put back on the hanger. Now I have to spend hours doing every pair myself and it will drive me insane.

For every hanger you leave in the fitting room you should be forced to pay for an hour of my therapy. No joke.

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You will end up hating every song on the store playlist

One Dance was a good song, right? WRONG. When it keeps coming up every 30 minutes as the same tracks are played over and over and over, you start to understand how some forms of torture can be extremely effective.

House party Spotify sets are ruined for you now.

You will never appreciate air-con more in your life

WHY IS IT SO FREAKING HOT IN HERE? AM I IN LITERAL HELL? (Answer – quite possibly.)

Customers will expect you to be an expert on everything

No, I don’t know if this teddy was made in China. No, I don’t know what the fur is made of. No, I don’t know if your niece will like it.

What else could you get her? Ma’am this store has over 10,000 different products in it. Take your pick.

Any task that gets you off floor you will do, and love

Clean the stock room? Of course I will. Price tag 200 new vests? Sounds great!

Clean up on aisle six? Maybe I’ll leave that one.

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You’ll turn to sugar, drink or drugs

I mean I’d recommend the first, but we all have our vices. You’ll find yourself envious of the smokers too, who are somehow able to sneak an extra five minute break every couple of hours. It’s enough to make you consider starting.

No-one will ever accept you’re closed

“But I’ll only be five minutes!” Tough shit lady, I’m not afraid to close the shutters on you.

If the fact you’re ushering people out like a shepherd isn’t enough of a clue, you could honestly turn the lights off and lock people in and they wouldn’t realise it was time to leave.

I’m back in tomorrow anyway, so if you’re that keen to see me just come back. I’ll be here… as always.