People need to stop saying working in retail is a doss job

We have to smile all day, that’s tiring.

People who don’t work in retail think it is easy. They think we stand around all day helping the occasional customer. They are wrong. To work in retail takes patience, charm, and tolerating the same things day in, day out. If you have worked or are working in retail, you will relate to at least one of these things, if not all of them.

Last minute customers

It’s 17:28 on a Saturday and the till is all cashed up, the store is sparkling clean and closing on time is looking promising. Until a herd of material hungry animals burst through the door. “We won’t be long, just a quick browse”, they swear. Bullshit. About half an hour passes until these people consider leaving, but we won’t be out for at least double that time because we have to clean and cash up again.


Can’t you see it’s home time?

The dumb questions

There are so many questions customers ask that are so damn obvious, but instead of using common sense it is down to us to bite our tongue and help. People pretend they don’t understand the poster in the window, so to double check we weren’t lying: “Is it all really up to 50% off?” Why else would we have that advertised?

And then there is the classic joke of when a customer cannot find the price of a product. They say: “It must be free!” Ha. I haven’t heard that one before.

Forever fake smiling

Even when a customer is driving you crazy asking fifty questions at eighty miles per hour, we must stand there and take it with a smile. Even if they point out how tired or hungover you look, smile away. The minute you fractionally relax into your resting bitch face, the manager is pulling you aside to remind you the rules of good customer service.


I’m so hungover

Rule changing managers

Enforcing the rules of the shop to a customer is of the utmost importance, such as a refund cannot be processed without a receipt, for example. Yet somehow, the manager has immunity to this and can do what he or she wants. This may make the dispute go away, but you are left feeling a mug. And let’s face it, if you changed the rules you would be fired.


We spend 80% of our day cleaning to ensure the store remains eye-catching and attractive, yet the minute your back is turned the whole shop is turned upside down. Everything is in the wrong place, products are all mixed up, and somehow even the window displays look like they have just been to a rave. The vicious cycle of cleaning, and then cleaning again, will never end for us hard workers.


Who did this???

Saying sorry

Customers are fully aware there are some circumstances that are out of the retailer’s control, but they need somebody to blame. It becomes our fault products are placed on a high shelf, the card machine doesn’t work, that voucher you’ve had gathering dust in the bottom of your purse is out of date, or we’ve ran out of the item you want. It’s all our fault. Even things not related to the job such as town being old-fashioned, or you had to miss your best friends’ birthday to look after the kids. Sorry about that.


It’s not even my fault

Problems at the till

Almost always something will go wrong at the till, and it’s usually when you’re close to getting that annoying customer out of the shop. There is always a cute couple arguing over who should pay, trying to make you join in with the ‘fun’.

Then there is the storyteller customer: a delightful old woman will be chatting away to you about why she needed that particular loaf of bread, yet behind her another customer will be tutting, tapping their foot and agitatedly checking their watch. This puts both us and the current customer in a very awkward situation, do you expect me to tell this lady to shut up so I can serve you?

So next time you claim a retail worker has it easy, think again. To the people who work in retail – take a bow.