Befriending your friendly retail worker

November 18, 2018

The Christmas shopping season is full of big sales, long lines, plenty of traffic -- and can be even worse for retail workers. A few things to keep in mind:

A kind smile and patience go a long way in easing the stress of the shopping season. When you ask retail workers to help you, they may already be trying to help three or four other people ahead of you. If they can’t handle the task themselves, they’ll likely ask someone else to help, but patience is always warranted. Coupon policies are there for a reason. Arguing with a cashier who had nothing to do with setting the policy only stresses out the cashier and angers everyone else in line behind you. Consider if you’re only purchasing the item because of the coupon, or if you’d still be willing to buy it for full price, before you get in line. Check your items to make sure they have price tags on them where applicable. If they don’t, grab a similarly tagged item, which can save everyone time. If an item needs to be looked up in an inventory system, please be patient, as inventory systems can be difficult to navigate and this can take some time. Also, no one finds comments such as, “It didn’t ring up. It must be free!” funny. Just don’t. Put your cellphone down. The cashier will do his or her best to make your transaction as speedy as possible, but trying to talk over your conversation can be arduous. Also, it’s just a sign of respect that the employee is worth three minutes of your attention. People want that toy or electronic right now, and it is easy to forget in the quest for that perfect gift that stores may not carry every item in quantity, that shipping times can become extended during the holiday season and that retail workers truly are doing their best to help you fulfill those requests. They can’t magically make something appear that isn’t in the store, and suggesting they check in the ubiquitous “backroom” when the inventory system says no just wastes everyone’s time. Getting angry or being rude also won’t help the situation. On that note, keep in mind that seeing something online doesn’t mean that it will be on a store’s shelves. Many retail stores with websites carry and stock items in warehouses that never make it to stores, or may only be in some stores but not all. If you saw it online, it’s OK to call a store and ask if they stock it there, but it’s not OK to get mad at employees when they don’t. Inventory decisions are often not made by the store’s staff.


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