Remember to be kind to retail workers this Black Friday

First of all, let me start out by saying that I get it.

We’ve all been in situations where the customer service in a particular establishment was far from five stars. We’ve all waited in line longer than we wanted to or had to put up with an employee who was less-than-helpful.

But the truth is, a lot of the time, people are a lot harder on cashiers and other people in retail than they need to be. Many times, if you are frustrated waiting in line, then the poor cashier working twice as hard to remain quick and respectful is equally frustrated that they are working solo at the moment.
Sometimes that less-than-helpful employee is new and doesn’t want to admit that they truly don’t know what aisle the candles are on.

For a few months, I worked as a retail employee at Target before starting with the local newspaper I now write for. My years in retail equalled into a low paying, emotionally-draining, tiring job that required me to be physically on my feet for almost eight hours straight. While I don’t want to ever go back, the job taught me to really appreciate all the more what retail employees go through each day.

Black Friday, for most of us, is the beginning of the seasonal Christmas shopping – but it also marks the day when most shopping outlets mark down their prices and welcome in deal-happy customers.
This is the one day out of the entire year that retail workers dread the most – while the company is raking in cash, the workers are not. Yet, it will be the workers who have had their “boots on the ground” for hours and hours (and probably stayed late the Thursday before, preparing for Black Friday).

Your retail workers are going to be tired, worn-to-the-bone, sleep deprived and hungry. They will be ready for the day to end. Dealing with rude customers is going to be status quo before the day ends.

Old fashioned kindness is still in fashion, so please remember that the person who is scanning your Black Friday deals is a person with feelings and emotions (and its likely that person in particular hasn’t had a break in hours). The same goes for the people staged throughout the store to help guide shoppers in the right direction. Rude comments from customers can make an already-exhausting day even more frustrating.

Also, please remember that the employees milling about the store or running registers don’t get to control prices, policies or stock – they really aren’t the people to complain to if you don’t like the price of something, or the “one per guest” rule upset your shopping plans.

Please be patient when you shop. Black Friday is an incredibly hectic day for retail markets, and the employees are going to be stretched thin. You may ask an employee to come unlock a video game case for you…only to remain waiting. Or, maybe the check-out line is long and you have four other stops to make before you can head home. These employees are trying their best to serve you quickly and efficiently, but sometimes they aren’t able to assist right away, or there may not be enough staff to flow customers through checkout as quickly as everyone would like. Please understand and wait patiently for a little bit longer.

And finally…do not put things back on random shelves.

Don’t want that movie or decided not to buy that toy? No problem – please give it to the employee at checkout. Every time you shove something onto a shelf where it doesn’t belong, it means an employee must stay late to clean up the store and put everything back – and employees absolutely see you shoving items in random places. There’s nothing like being ready to clock out, only to realize that you need to stay late and help clean up the store after the end of a tiring shift; don’t be that person. Either put your product back where it belongs, or give it to your cashier so it can be cycled back to the shelf.

There’s a lot that goes into the magic of the holidays – but packing a little extra kindness for the retail workers who have been up since dawn for Black Friday is a little way to make a big impact this holiday season.


Header Photo by Heidi Sandstrom. on Unsplash

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