This post was written pre-COVID-19. Obviously, coming in contact with people from all over the world can raise risks for your personal health.
A retail salesperson asked me, "Is working retail bad for your health?"
My quick answer was to say "No."
I mean, a salesperson in retail is not like a salesperson selling door-to-door or hawking tin siding...
However, as a retail expert, I realized my speedy response didn't give the question the consideration it deserves.
There are things you can do and experience when working retail that have a negative impact on your health. It's not the job itself that matters most, it's how we approach it.
Water is typically good for you - but you can still drown in it.
After a little more thought, I realized that there are some behaviors that can make working retail as a salesperson appear unhealthy.
Six habits that can make working retail bad for your health
It’s not retail itself that’s bad for you, but stores are often surrounded by an environment that promotes bad habits and an unhealthy lifestyle. Here are six challenges I’ve found that are pervasive in many retail locations.
1. Bad diet
Many retail stores are located near food courts and fast-food restaurants. If you make that your diet during work hours, your health can suffer.
2. Bad digestion
Many retail salespeople are always on "go." If you don't take the time to sit down and eat your lunch, but just grab quick bites when you can... you won't feel too healthy.
3. Expensive food
Economic health is very important. If you're living on a diet of fast food and carry out, the costs will add up.
4. Retail stress
Like any job, retail salespeople will encounter stress. Those who don't learn to decompress will suffer.
5. Always on
There's a "go, go" mentality in retail. It's great in the store, but you've got to find time for yourself too.
Yes, you are front-facing to the general public so make sure you wash your hands, don't touch your face, maintain social distancing, and wear a mask when it is required.
As you can tell, I love retail, and believe it's a good career for those who choose to do it, and choose to do it well. Regular readers will know it's where I got my start and I've stuck with it for decades.
Maybe that's why it was easier to come up with these examples why working retail is bad...But, it’s not all bad.
Ten health benefits of working in retail
Don't let retail stress stop you from enjoying the many benefits of a career in retail. These are some of the ways working in retail can improve your physical, emotional, and economic health.
Whatever you can say about retail salespeople, they aren't lazy - walking the floor, stocking shelves, and moving merchandise all take effort. Stretching, reaching overhead, and bending down all help burn calories and keep bodies in motion.
2. Social skills
From bosses and co-workers to customers, salespeople interact with a variety of people. Getting out of your head and phone helps you feel connected and less alone.
3. Goal setting
Once you know how to set, and meet, your sales goals, setting personal goals becomes that much easier. Without a goal, many people say life can feel pointless. Achieving goals, even small ones, brings about a sense of accomplishment.
If you make it through your 90-day retail sales training, you'll have a more positive outlook. Customers don't buy from negative salespeople so, if you're still there, you've learned something. Make sure to cultivate that sense of accomplishment so you remain someone who looks forward to meeting people.
A good company and good team members can give you a sense of purpose and belonging that is usually reserved for families. There's no better feeling than walking into work and knowing that people are happy you're there.
Retail sales training will teach you to work with other people as a team, even if you don't see eye to eye. This skill will translate to your life as a whole.
7. Problem solving
Whether it's a merchandise problem, a customer problem, or a team problem, you'll be involved in finding and implementing the solution. The more your brain is confronted with change, the more elastic you can be as life throws things at you.
8. Time management
A skill to last a lifetime. Retail teaches you what your time is worth, and how to use it. Show up on time, do your work, and be productive - managing your time will carry on no matter what else you do in your personal or professional life.
9. Diversity training
You're going to encounter people of all races, creeds, cultures, sexual orientations, and attitudes. Few things can prepare you for the challenges in life like working retail. Retail helps you meet people not like you and find common ground to interact.
10. Economic health
If you work at it, improve yourself and work for good retailers, you can make a decent living. If you learn additional life lessons, it's a bonus.
Can working retail impact your life negatively?
Sure it can, and, like in any career, there's potential to get out of it what you put into it.
If you carry grudges, wallow in stress, and refuse to be accountable for yourself, then anywhere you work can affect your health; retail is no exception.
On the other hand, if you respect yourself, and the job, the benefits of working in retail will last a lifetime, no matter what career you choose.