The last few weeks I started working my first retail job at a local retail store. In the past, I have worked as a nanny, supervisor, and intern for Habitat for Humanity, but never directly retail. After only four weeks at this job, I feel like I've learned so much about how the system works, things that as a customer I had no idea about.
So, in the spirit of "sharing the wealth" (which is knowledge in this case) here are 20 things customers should know when shopping retail.
We don't know where every item in the store is off the top of our heads.
Prudence Earl // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/8F0I12ypHPA
It's perfectly okay to ask an employee for help when looking for an item, but don't be surprised if they too have difficulty finding it. Displays move constantly so it is impossible and pointless to commit all of them to mind.
We would much rather you hand us the items you don't want instead of throwing them anywhere in the store.
As a new employee, one of my main jobs is to go around the store and organize displays, put items away, etc. I'd never noticed it as a shopper, but people will throw any item they don't want wherever they want. It's not uncommon to find a pair of shoes under a display full of pants. Please, just do us both a favor and hand over the items you don't want. It's our job to put them away.
We know you don't like being asked, "Finding everything okay?" But it's literally our job.
BBH Singapore // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/Il4aIyNpzaM
Most retail places require that employees greet customers as they walk in and make sure they don't need assistance. It might seem annoying, but we are just doing our job.
We don't control the prices.
As employees, we don't control the prices or sales of items. So please, instead of getting angry with us, take it up with the company itself. We can't do anything.
Refunds are not always possible.
Blake Wisz // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/tE6th1h6Bfk
Please, please, please bring a receipt if you are returning anything. Also, be aware that some cases don't allow us to give you cash or credit, instead they require that you have store credit. It's not something we can control so getting angry with us won't help.
We can't take expired coupons.
They have an expiration date for a reason. It's not something we can just override.
We know you probably don't want to sign up for a store credit card, but we have to ask.
Nathan Dumlao // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/lvWw_G8tKsk
This is one of those things that changes from place to place, but most of the time stores with credit cards require cashiers to ask each customer if they are interested.
Assuring us that we can "take our time" is truly a gift.
Chances are, everyone is doing more than one thing at a time. Please be kind and patient.
I can't just give you a discount.
Claudio Schwarz // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/zKT64MtVKQ0
Discounts require codes and authorizations. I can't just make one up just for you.
We aren't "happy to help" five minutes before closing.
I think there's a misconception that the minute the store closes all the employees' clock out and go home. Spoiler alert: we don't. We spend extra time after closing arranging and organizing things, counting money, etc. So if you come in five minutes to closing and ruin our nicely organized tables, we will not be happy.
We don't really care if you want to shop somewhere else.
Sharon McCutcheon // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/-8a5eJ1-mmQ
There's the common threat of "I am never shopping here again" or "I can just shop somewhere else." The truth is, most retail workers don't work on commission, so we don't really care if you want to shop somewhere else. Especially if you are just downright rude.
If you have children, please watch them. Our store is not a playground.
Part of our training includes understanding the risks and liability the company is under when it comes to customers and accidents in the store. That being said, please don't let your kid climb the employee ladder, pull on shelves, or hide in racks. All of those are dangerous and honestly, we don't have time to pay attention to your children.
"In the back" means almost nothing.
Ruchindra Gunasekara // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/GK8x_XCcDZg
If you ask us to check in the back for something you can't find on the floor, chances are we will walk back, open the door, close the door, and tell you we don't have it. Why? Because there's really no such thing as "the back." We don't keep a plethora of items that are already on the floor in the back. Chances are, if you don't see it on the floor, then we don't have it.
Please PLEASE bring a receipt when you want to return an item.
I know I already included something about returns, but seriously people. Please bring a receipt. That way your return will only take two minutes instead of twenty.
Please read the signs carefully.
Siora Photography // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/XEwpKC3OSSM
"I understand that there was a 50% sign on the same table as the t-shirts, but our promotion is only for the shorts on the table." I know it can be confusing, but most of the signs tell you exactly what is on sale and what is not.
Don't ask the cashier where items on the floor are.
Especially if there's only one cashier, make sure to ask any questions about the location of items before going to the counter. The cashier doesn't know where everything in the store is nor can they leave to check something out for you. There are plenty of people on the sales floor that would be more than willing to help!
Also, we can spot shoplifters from a mile away.
Clem Onojeghuo // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/RLJnH4Mt9A0
When you are forced to greet everyone as you walk in, it's pretty easy to see when people are shoplifting.
More on discounts: We don't control them.
I'm sorry that we don't have a student discount. I'm sorry that our senior discount is only on Tuesdays, but no. I cannot make an exception for you.
We don't know what size shirt your wife wears.
Mark Zamora // Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/GYXz60PMgA0
Of husband for that matter. The number of customers that come to the register with something and ask what size their spouse or partner would wear is astonishing. We have no idea how to size someone who isn't there. Also, we don't know how to size people in general! It's not part of the job training.
Finally, retail workers are not in charge of changing things within the store that make you angry.
In fact, any store-wide changes are WAY above the average retail worker's pay grade.
Overall, be kind to your retail workers. Chances are they are working as hard as they can to provide you with the best service possible. Retail is a multi-tasking job and requires a lot of focus and attention to detail. Please be patient.