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You’ve been shopped



As we move swiftly towards Christmas and swiftlier more swiftly in the US towards Thanksgiving I want you to spare a thought for the retail employees out there. It is the season for giving so give a little love in their direction…..go on you know you want to.  Apart from you……yes YOU…’re not allowed to give any love now are you…..not after the last time……I mean really…..I’ve never been so embarrassed…….


I know you are busy.  I know that spending your money on things that other people will put at the back of their cupboards is important.  I know that you love to fight over the 50% reduced top in last years colour because it is so you and the pair of trousers that really don’t make your bum look big……honest. 

And I know that people aren’t responsive enough to your needs, your desires and your time limits. I know that.

I know that, because I can read your mind.

The kids that are there with the sash or the special t-shirt highlighting them as second class staff. They can’t.  They only see an amorphous mass of angry human flesh behaving in ways in which we would find shocking…..if it wasn’t us. 

They only see the minimum wage payment that they will receive and the hope that they may be given some extra hours over and above the crappy flexible contracts that they have.

They only see the fact that whilst everyone is at home stuffing themselves, they will be staying late to change POS in the hope that they might get a permanent crappy job at the end of the temporary crappy job.

They only see their lack of training and lack of legal protection and lack of employment rights.

So in the run up to the festive season, as you spend your hard earned money also spend some time to think about these guys who don’t want to be there, but have to be.  Remember that that kid struggling with the till, or looking aimlessly into space WHEN YOU NEED SOME HELP RIGHT NOW is just doing their best in shitty conditions for shitty pay.

Share a bit of love their way, not only will you make their day better, you’ll also improve your own.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/23/2010 11:33

    Never a truer post written.

    For three and a half years after graduating, I worked in HMV and can honestly say, that at times, it was one of the most demoralising jobs I’ve ever had. This post is extremely timely, in so far as the HR Director of HMV was quoted yesterday as saying that all HMV staff are up for the seasonal period and motivated.


    Christmas in retail is a horrendous place to be. I would often have to negotiate and plead for 2 days off on the rota – Christmas Day and Boxing Day. On the occasions that I was ‘lucky’ enough to be granted these (and I was a full-time, permanent member of the team, not a seasonal temp), I would often have to work 11 day shifts straight in order to be granted these 48 hours of leave.

    Shifts are cocked up. Late opening hours mean that shifts of 4pm to 11pm were not uncommon; often followed up with a 7am start the next day. One year I had to do a shift that started at 6pm and went through until 5am, because we had to merchandise lots of sale stock.

    Add to this the general crappiness of being a retail worker anyway – have to ask to leave the till to take a piss; I regularly got told off for chatting to colleagues on the shop floor whilst putting out stock as if I was ‘misbehaving’ – being told off for coming back ONE minute late from a lunch hour – all of these things are magnified during the ‘jolly’ festive period.

    Having now escaped the confines of retail hell, I make a concerted effort to be polite, courteous and friendly towards retail employees. Believe me – a simple thank you from a customer, or someone being friendly and engaging you in conversation makes SO much difference.

    I understand that the nature of retail means that late shifts etc. will be par for the course, but please do remember that retail workers will often be doing 12-day shifts without a day off – and all of this will be to achieve 2 days off to spend with your family.

  2. Katrina Collier permalink
    11/23/2010 11:43

    It is sad that we need to be reminded how to treat other people during the silly season or at any other time of the year but well done on a great post! Callum your points are also brilliant.

  3. KarenF permalink
    11/23/2010 11:59

    Good call to arms HRD! Poor sods having to put up with a bunch of moronic shoppers day in day out!
    Not all of us are bad though and having come from retail myself I know there are some brilliant customers out there who make the day better. I always make a point of finding a manager if I have had great service, though it worries me whether the praise is passed on as quickly as a complaint would be.
    And a quick note on their behalf about a big bugbear; if you dont want the item after all go and put it back! That is truly a tedious task.
    And another thing dont ask them if they know how much an item costs, they dont have a barcode reader behind their retinas! Although when this happened I used to scan the item across my eyes and make a beep noise and make up a price. Some of them believed me and most saw the funny side! Tee hee hee.

  4. 11/23/2010 12:04

    My very first job was exactly what you describe. I wasn’t ’till-trained’ so couldn’t serve customers, I could only fetch sizes and pick up items.

    It wasn’t fabulous but I didn’t mind most of it and I enjoyed helping grandmas pick out gifts for their grandkids. But if the company won’t train temps, there’s nothing I can do when everyone else has abandoned the floor and you want to buy something from this particular till… so be nice 🙂

  5. JohnE permalink
    11/23/2010 12:14

    And don’t forget the endless looping hell of festive tunes that retail workers are forced to hear for six solid weeks.

    They’re supposed to heighten the mood and encourage shoppers to ‘get in the mood’ (spend more money), but as anyone who’s worked in a retail environment will tell you, one man’s Jona Lewie is another man’s Pavlovian provocation to shove the Christmas tree where it really doesn’t belong.

    Shop workers really do have my sympathy at this time of year.

  6. 11/23/2010 12:30

    I’m not putting any more comments on your blog because you never bloody answer. You rude git.

  7. 11/23/2010 14:29

    Well said.

  8. Gareth permalink
    11/23/2010 16:31

    This is why I shop online…

    Seriously, I completely agree . I would go further than that and extend this advice to all the year. Don’t have a go at poor call-centre staff because some other part of the company has let you down, for example. Its just basic respect for other people – more often than not in difficult circumstances.

  9. 11/23/2010 19:34

    My dear, I do think you’re getting all soft (like a Teddy bear) lately. I like it.

  10. 11/24/2010 10:25

    @Callum Saunders – Well there you go folks…..straight from the horses mouth. Show a little sympathy. As for you Cal – no wonder you’re bald……

    @Katrina Collier – I heard rumours you were dead! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

    @KarenF – “They don’t have a barcode reader behind their retinas” – haha classic…..and so true!

    @Charlie Duff – Did they have a little step for you….so you could reach up to the till? 🙂

    @JohnE – Thanks for commenting John….ahhhh the music….the constant 12 songs on repeat all day…….the urge to go and murder Father Christmas…….

    @Henry – Grumpy bastard…..I’m a busy man don’t you know!

    @HR Harriet – Bless you!

    @Gareth – Welcome and thanks for commenting. Call centre staff….yep….they are the poor suckers who really feel the pain.

    @Trish McFarlane – That is the first time I’ve been likened to a Teddy Bear! 🙂 But I am a big softie really……

  11. 11/24/2010 18:54

    Good call T. I met my present wife whilst in a temporary crappy job in Boots, when I was a teenager.
    She is still in retail after all these years, in Hamleys, Glasgow. The toughest time of the year will be the next 6 weeks, but at least she gets to work in an enormous toy store.

  12. 11/29/2010 10:06

    @Stephen O’Donnell – I guess some retail jobs do have their upsides…..!


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