The first week of December can be the calm before the storm. Your seasoned retail employees know what is in store, your newbies have no idea.
There are many things an employee can do proactively to bolster their own sanity.
15 Tips for Holiday Retail Employees:
1. Get your own shopping done early. You won’t have the time or inclination to walk around for hours to try to buy something – and no one will blame you.
2. Know where you are supposed to park. I can’t tell you how many employees I’ve had who had their car ticketed or towed by the mall because they didn’t follow the mall’s employee parking rules. It’s an easy thing to avoid.
3. There will be traffic. That means you need to allow twice as much time to arrive on schedule. If you work two or more jobs, talk to your bosses now so you aren’t trying to pull off the impossible.
4. Know where all the supplies are – from register tape, to scissors, to gift card envelopes, even how to reboot your Wi-Fi system. The more prepared you are, the more calm you can be when others may be freaking out.
5. Know when to take a break. With holiday parking – in the snow or rain, pushing past people to get where they need to be, being stuck in lines to check out, and trying to be done with shopping, tension is bound to be coming at you from customers. If you get overwhelmed, ask the manager if you can go in the back for five minutes to be by yourself. For me it was shooting imaginary basketball hoops. You might choose to listen to a favorite – non-Christmas song. Take care of your psyche before you reach the breaking point.
6. Limit caffeine. I'm aware it is the drug of choice for salespeople but know caffeine is often accompanied with sugar which means you’ll be amped up but crash when it wears off. Then you’ll have to have more which can shorten your own fuse when dealing with demanding customers.
7. Busy is good – don’t bitch about it. Days go quicker and you don't have time to think. That's a good thing.
8. Change your final question. Instead of asking if the customer needs “Anything else?” ask “Who else is on your list?’ It’s much better to get a larger sale than flit from one customer to another.
9. Jump in when you can. If someone is slammed at the counter, don’t avoid it. See if you can bag, or do something to make the line go quicker. Your co-worker will be inclined to do the same for you. Oh, and adding a thank you whenever you can will go a long way.
10. Bring your own lunch. It will take you twice as long to get anything in the mall and the less you have to go out into the chaos on a busy day – the less stress you’ll have.
11. Double-check your schedule. People call in sick and schedules can change on a dime so before leaving for the day, just confirm when you are scheduled to avoid any misunderstandings.
12. Footwear is key. You’ll be moving around much more than standing around and poor-fitting shoes can affect your posture, balance and back. Wear shoes with good support.
13. Leave your problems at the door. Nothing’s worse than getting a text or call about something out of your control while you’re slammed in a retail store during Christmastime. Limit your communication if you want to lower your stress.
14. Complaints aren’t about you – until they are. While you will be surprised by how many customers, if you treat them nice, will treat you nice, some customers will not be on their best behavior. Understand it and try to figure out how not to take their comments personally. If you do, they’ve won.
15. Pay attention to your personal relationships. While your husband, spouse, girlfriend might say they understand you have to work – it doesn’t mean they like it. So when you’re with them, be with them.
Holiday retail employees in 2020 also have to read up on new safety and cleaning guidelines. OSHA provides a basic guidance for retail workers, read them over and then make sure you are clear on your employer's expectations.
The holidays can be a fun time to work retail as you vicariously participate in a customer’s selection of a gift. Holiday retail sales employees can use these 15 things to maintain sanity, health and their job.