The Christmas Retail Blues

Some sort of story about being in retail at Christmas.

Hello fellow Medium-ites,

It’s been a while. I haven’t published anything in over a month, and I’m sure you’re all dying to read my work (Sarcasm).

The last month has been off-the-wall busy with final exams, theater productions, and work. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to work at a mid to high-end retail store during Christmas season, keep on reading, because I am going to outline what it’s been like this year.

This year, like every other year, has been busy. But this year it’s been busy for a whole plethora of other reasons. Customers have been much more rude and demanding than they have in the past. Now would be a perfect time for me to say “This isn’t me complaining, but…”.

Truthfully, this is absolutely me complaining. I am calmly speaking louder than usual into the void that is Medium. Before I go into the insanity of this holiday specific holiday season, I’ll just do a quick background of where retail (especially specialty retail) is at.

Quick background

I work at a mid to high end furniture company that sells housewares. A solid 3/4 of the year the furniture business is what drives company sales. However, the furniture manufacturing business has been crippled by covid supply chain issues, and it’s simply not letting up.

Because of this, most of my day-to-day routines are apologizing to people that they are going to have to wait to get their sofas, chairs, dining tables, potted plants, pretty much anything and everything you can think of related to interior design and decor.

Another big portion of my daily routine seems to be calling people to tell them that their products are going to be delayed by another few weeks or so. This usually results in people screaming at me, telling me that I’m an idiot, that I lied to them to get their sales (even though commission was scrapped and it literally does not matter), or just generally blaming the company.

These two factors are actually quite stressful, and to add, the company seems to have forgotten about communicating with its’ employees as to what fabrics are available and what are not, leaving us in the belly of the beast when we are working with customers.

Not cool.

And we also cannot forget about the ever-looming presence of Covid, masks, and inflation that’s causing my grilled cheese w/ avocado and bacon to be over 12 dollars.

That’s the real crime here.

This is the backdrop to the horrors of a second-pandemic Christmas.

The Christmas Season

I think we all agree, the Christmas season should be full of joy, drinking hot chocolates, lights, music and whatever other activities you and yours do.

This is simply not a reality for some people. I can only speak of my experience in retail over the holidays, so that’s what I will focus on. This is not a political rant.

Working retail during the holidays means staying at your job for extra hours, with no bonuses, while doing stupid, menial tasks like putting 4 plates out on a shelf when you should have left 30 minutes ago.

Working retail during the holidays means dealing with insane customers who waited too damn long to get their gifts- and then get mad at you when you don’t have any. As if you even get paid enough to care!

But these are normal, expected things that happen when you work in retail during the holidays.

What’s made this year worse, then? If this is normal and expected, why complain at all?

Well, this year has been vastly challenging in terms of supply and shipment issues.

The phones seem to be ringing constantly and the calls are questions asking, “Where’s my package, I ordered it a week ago!”

The best part is they all have a tracking number, telling them that their items have shipped. So if you can track your own package, why are you even calling a store?

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Obviously we aren’t a shipping company. We work with shipping companies. I just never understood the mentality of people calling stores, as if the employees have a magic wand that can make those companies any faster. What do you want me to do about your ornaments that you ordered, Karen? Hand-deliver them? Or do you just want to complain to people who have to pretend to care?

This is a small thing, but when you compound this with the other factors that I mentioned before, it’s hard to feign empathy for these people. I simply do not care, unless something has genuinely went wrong. Then I actually care, because things should be done to the best of their abilities when you are doing them.

I need to take a puff of something, man.

Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

Thank you for checking out this article. I hope you enjoyed, and if you like discussing retail, I’ve written another article musing about the future of retail business. Check it out!

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Matthew David

Matthew David

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Philosopher. Writer. Coffee Addict. I write about Philosophy from the Ancient Greeks to Existentialism. https://medium.com/@matthew-david/about ←Learn more here