(Image: Dentons via Google)

Have you ever worked in retail? Do some customers arrogance make your day harder? Does a possible 24/7 day corrupt your sleep pattern? Here are four things that displease me about working in retail after spending a considerable amount of time working in a supermarket.

  1. The Hours

Some days the hours you work are a perk. Not working during weekdays are often the best part of the job. Not many cinemas are full, shopping centres are empty and there are next to no children in my favourite coffee spots, because they are in school. On some days, I would often go to my barbers on a Monday afternoon and go straight to the chair. On the weekend this would be different; it is full of weekday workers and children jumping all over the place. Not a bliss! With the perks come the downsides. Some days you could be waiting until 7pm to do a 7pm – 11pm. All day is spent counting the hours until you have to go. You even will occasionally get a text from a friend ‘fancy a drink after I’ve finished work?’ To which you would reply, “Sorry I can’t I have work”. The hours can be range from early morning to well into the night. It can mess with your body clock especially if you agree to do an extra few hours until 5 am with a possible shift that night (7pm). What is it all for? Well it’s all for….

2. The Money

The money in some sense of the word (well for students at least) is good, but for someone where retail work is their main source of income. It can be soul destroying. You can work many days, work your hardest, and in sometimes a sales assistant will have to do more than one persons job in a day. At the end of the month, after all this, you see that your wage is not that much as thought. Or worst of all – find you have been underpaid! To then wait a month or more to get the money you are owed. The money is not for those who want to live a lavish lifestyle but is enough for students and possible parents who work part time to help supplement their household earnings.

3. The Management

Retail managers come in my experience in two types:

  • The Good

These are the people who will motivate you to do your best, give you feedback that will help you do your job better, and will not expect you to do more then you can do -even when pushed to your limit. These managers will be professional yet friendly to you. They will also be there to help give you advice to help you develop in the hierarchy of the company and aid you in your pursuit. These managers will also look to keep people happy in the work place to avoid losing valuable members of staff.

  • The Bad

These managers are the exact opposite of the above. These people see their position as a privilege, but see it in a way in which they are better then their staff. These are the managers who lead a team by force and snobbery. They will often be in the back doing little work, especially if their team is struggling – either with a late delivery or maybe understaffed due to illness – then blaming the members of staff present for their lack of progress. They will in some instances show little compassion to some staff with bereavement and possible childcare. They will be all about ‘playing the game’ to get ahead. Staff with these managers will often have little motivation, want to leave the company they work for and have a negative attitude towards their work. Senior managers should do their best to train these managers to do better, but often don’t.

4. The Customers

Some customers can be very nice and for a short time, or even the whole day, can make your shift that more enjoyable. It is even better when these customers are regular. Some are just rude, they come in and expect to be given the best treatment even when their first words to you are ‘ oi you’. Now, to expect execellent service with this will never happen. With me I gave these customers the bare minimum of good service and often directed them to a product they wanted in the store. This was instead of my customary take them to their product and wishing them a good day.

Now, because of 24/7 trading hours an assistant can work late at night and very early mornings. This can bring in one type of brilliant customer: the drunk/s. These people can either be good or bad. The good can be the regular drunk who comes in and on some occasion cause amusement to the staff as they sing and dance around the shop. These people don’t often get the extra alcohol they want because they are already intoxicated and it would be dangerous. They are a good distraction and are often harmless. The other side to this is the bad. The bad customers are the drunks that are aggressive and often shout abuse at staff. In one instance I have seen people come into my place of work and be aggressive and start a confrontation with other people, resulting in the police needing to be there. There are also the type of drunk customer that will come in and shout verbal abuse at the workers.

Retail can be a great place to work and earn money and work less days – if you don’t mind doing 12 hour days. When it is great, it is great, but when it is bad it can be a place that can motivate you to find somewhere else to work or it can drive you to a profession you truly care about. It can be a place to make possible friends for life and skills that can help you in later life. The upsides do outweigh the negatives that I have noted but every job has bad qualities. If I were to tell someone where to get a first job I would recommend a job in retail.


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