Opinion

Things you only know if you're working in retail over Christmas

Time off over Christmas? Nope, not if you work in a shop

Public transport and eating sensibly might grind to a halt over Christmas, but one thing that never stops is the retail industry.

Anyone who works in – or has ever experienced working in – a shop over the festive period, will tell you that it’s a unique kind of hell.

Nobody really needs to buy piles of reduced gadgets or a whole new wardrobe at 5pm on Christmas Eve, but that doesn’t stop shoppers descending in their hundreds for last-minute gifts.

So, if most of your Christmas is going to be spent on the shop floor or behind a till, this is for you. We’ve been there, and we know what it’s like. And yes, it will look really suspicious if you ring in sick on Boxing Day. Sorry.

Here’s what you know if you work in retail over Christmas.

1. Time off? What even is that?

You’re not looking forward to a nice Christmas break, because you’re not getting one. You’ll have to grit your teeth a few times when people ask you how you’re spending your time off. And is it OK to unfriend people who post on Facebook about how happy they are to have switched their out-of-office on?

2. The shop floor carnage

Christmas isn’t a time for polite browsing. Apparently, frenzied rummaging and chucking things on the floor is the best way to shop. And there’s always one person who tuts at you for getting in their way while you’re trying to tidy up.

3. Festive blaggers

“No, this item isn’t reduced to 20p. I know that because I can clearly see you’ve taken a 20p sticker off something else and put it on this considerably more expensive thing.”

4. Everyone is awful

From that guy who simply won’t believe the item is out of stock until five different members of staff have checked for him, to the kids who keep messing up the display and person who insists on speaking to the manager, nobody is making your job easy.

5. “The customer is always right”

Whoever invented that phrase is wrong and a terrible, terrible person.

6. The weird things people eat

If you’re in a supermarket, you’ll start to spot unexpected additions alongside all the turkeys, sweets and frozen sprouts. Why is that person buying twelve bunches of bananas and a tin of sardines? Is that some kind of Christmas tradition we don’t know about?

7. Clueless boyfriends

When the lingerie department is suddenly overrun with men who are determined to buy their girlfriend something nice, yet seem to be lacking some critical information – like her bra size and whether she even likes fancy underwear – you can’t help but laugh (when they’ve left the shop, of course).

8. Christmas Day is time for a nap...

Given that the big day itself is probably the only one you’ll have off, all you’ll want to do is sleep all day. Obviously you’ll wake up for dinner, but nothing else is getting you off the sofa.

9. ...but Boxing Day is The. Absolute. Worst

Especially if you’ve picked the short straw and end up on the 5am shift. If, by 7am, blows haven’t been exchanged over a reduced iPad, you can count the sale as a success. The only silver lining is how quickly the day goes by because it’s so busy.

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