6 Struggles All Retail Workers Can Relate To

By Alicia Geigel on December 19, 2017

I believe that I’m not completely alone when I say that you have to be a special kind of person to work in retail. It is easy to say that simply anyone could work that kind of job, but for those who actually work in retail, the struggle is real. Constantly dealing with angry, bitter, and downright disrespectful customers can make you want to pull your hair out an hour into your shift.

Though I have never worked in retail, I have worked in jobs that rely heavily on interpersonal skills and communication, and dealing with negativity from patients and guests was enough to break down my spirit sometimes. It is especially hard working in a field that requires those kinds of skills because there is no opportunity to deviate from what you are supposed to say and how you are supposed to act. In regards to retail, the saying “the customer is always right” is constantly hammered into your head, making day-to-day interactions with the most difficult of customers a newfound challenge and tug of war between what you know to be right and what your duty as a retail worker is. If you are someone who works in retail, you’ll definitely be able to relate to these six phrases!

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1. “Just Because It Doesn’t Have a Tag, Doesn’t Mean It’s Free”: I think that just about every retail worker in the world has uttered this phrase to some customer with a wild (and ignorant) sense of humor. Sure, they may just be joking around but after hearing that phrase over and over again while working, you reach a breaking point. Try someone else next time, Susan! Already heard that one!

2. “The Price on the Tag is the Real Price”: For some reason in the world of retail, some customers seem to be under the impression that there is a secret price behind the actual price tag on an item. Though there are times where items are incorrectly priced, 99% of the time, the price on the tag is the final price, no ifs, ands or butts. Just think about it from this angle: it’s literally my job to put prices on things, I think I got the hang of it.

3. “No I Can’t Give You a Discount for X,Y,Z”: Customers are always looking for a good deal, and I don’t blame them because I am the same way when I shop. One thing I don’t do, however, is berate the retail worker with discount questions when clearly there is no sign of me getting a discount. Sure, there are some places that have discounts for seniors, veterans and students, or special promotions on discount days, but these discounts are clearly labeled with signs. If there is no reason to believe there is a discount, there isn’t one, please stop asking!

4. “Yes, I Work Here!”: Though a very simple phrase, this is perhaps one of the most bothersome questions for someone who works in retail. I have a nametag, a lanyard and abide by my company’s work uniform, yes I do work here, I promise I’m not just dressing up! That only happens on Halloween if we’re lucky and I guarantee you I will NOT be wearing my work outfit on Halloween. Ever.

5. “Yeah, I Can Check the Back!”: A customer usually does not have bad intentions when they ask if an item absent on the floor might be in stock in the back. It’s a reasonable question, however, the harsh reality is I already know what the back looks like before you even ask. The even harsher reality is knowing there’s literally nothing in the back and still going back to check anyway because I want to delay telling you we don’t have that item and perhaps have two seconds of silence for the day. I’m sorry, we’re out of stock, but we can order it online to the store for you!

6. “Sure, I’ll Get my Manager”: There’s always that one customer that tried to return a used pair of pants, stained with no tag/no receipt that insists on the store policy of giving them their money back. Upon explaining the details of the policy to the customer, they insist they know better than me and want to talk to someone who actually knows what they are doing. Sure, I’ll bring you my manager, just so I can see you get roasted with the same exact information I gave you in the first place, no problem! Be sure to keep in mind when you say this, to have a big smile on your face for dramatic effect.

Working in retail definitely has its struggles, but the great thing about it is that your co-workers all share the same struggle and you are all in this together (*cue High School Musical*); am I the only one who thinks that when I hear that phrase? Yeah? Ok.

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