17 Truths About Working In Retail


1. Mystery shoppers give retail workers trust issues for life. Are you undercover? Is this a test? Are you wearing a wire? Blink two times if you’re wearing a wire. Oh, God, I don’t even know what’s real anymore!

2. The only thing more proficient at making gigantic messes than an unsupervised kid is said child’s careless parents. At least toddlers have small hands and undeveloped brains — these grown, full-sized humans are capable of misplacing, unfolding and tossing aside at indefensible rates.

3. Contrary to popular belief, when customers request something and the employee tells them it’s not in stock without walking to the back, that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s just that the back room is less like Willy Wonka’s factory and more like a janitor’s closet.

4. Sometimes you’ll play along, heading to the back and pretending to check on a product that you know isn’t there to make the customer feel better, using that five minutes as a bonus break to rummage through social media on your phone.

5. You repeat so many phone greetings, generic customer service lines and corny salutations that they’re embedded in your brain for life.

6. No good deed goes unpunished. You help the blatantly clueless customer with ten minutes left in your shift and they’ll have endless questions and requests that keep you 20+ minutes after. More often than not it seems to work out this way when you make an effort to be helpful and like, actually do what you’re being paid for.

7. Stealth texting is a craft and you will master it until eventually you’re a retail texting ninja who holds flawless, typo-free conversations with friends throughout shifts.

8. Your ability to withstand rejection is incredible because most of the time, pitching upsells or offering people special cards that’ll save them 10% on this purchase results in a quick, resounding “no,” yet there you are, asking another uninterested customer 15 seconds later.

9. There are songs that others enjoy but you’ll hate for life because they’ve been playing on a loop every shift and are basically the soundtrack to your misery. Not to mention the fact that every December, thousands of retailers permanently ruin Christmas music for their employees.

10, Many nightmare customers simply won’t ever understand how horrible they are. The only medicine for treating rude, impatient, unpleasant shoppers would be to force everybody to work retail for at least a year so they can experience the struggle in every season. Back to school retail is intense, but nothing compared to the cutthroat holidays. It’s a lot easier to be understanding and easygoing with employees when you’ve been on the other side of the spectrum.

11. You’ve got to have some guts to attempt stealing because good Lord, there are cameras everywhere. And it’s not just like 240p footage being taken; I’m talking high definition, capable of reading the tiny label on your shirt type recordings. Even if you get out with some goods, there’s a high chance your picture will be pasted for employees to lookout for. You’d never try to stop these people yourself because:

  1. People stealing things tend to be desperate/dumb/unstable — all scary traits.
  2. You don’t get paid nearly enough to play security guard with someone else’s money.

12. Wearing a nametag makes people think you have way more power than you do. Just because I fold the jeans doesn’t mean I can give them to you 75% off. Nothing more frustrating than people asking for hookups that you yourself don’t even get as an employee.

13. You won’t get paid like the CEO, but you will take complaints and verbal abuse for him/her. People will become hostile with you in regards to issues you have no hand in establishing or eliminating. Those responsible in corporate are probably on a retreat, golfing or laying in the sand listening to crashing waves while the common employee folds, lifts, hangs and cleans up to the sweet sounds of criticism and Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve for the fourth time today.

14. There’s a uniquely disrespectful, helpless feeling that is only experienced when a customer comes in a few minutes before closing and shops leisurely as if your personal time is worthless and you don’t mind staying late. They don’t realize you can’t even begin several closing duties until they’re done. Or even worse they know it but simply don’t care.

15, People will look down on you because of your job and they may not directly say it, but you can always identify when it’s happening.

16. Black Friday isn’t some fun, festive day to save a few bucks on a TV, it’s more of a showcasing of how terrible some humans can be and how low many will stoop for worldly objects.

17. It’s essentially impossible to be spontaneous or make plans during the months of November & December because your employer wants your existence to revolve around pushing sales and being available at all hours. A social life is non-existent during the holidays. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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