What NOT To Do When Working in Retail

By Lorena Roberts on September 30, 2017

Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, am I right? Oftentimes we find ourselves working a job in retail as a way to start out. Others see a career in retail.

Regardless of what your overall career goal is, retail is a popular place for people to work at some point in their lives. There are many great things about working in retail, like getting an employee discount and great working locations. However, the drawbacks of long/late hours and not much pay could be frustrating.

Regardless, there are things you absolutely should not do when you’re working in retail. Here’s a list of the first 10 I could think of.


10. Don’t ask too many times

If they’ve already told you they don’t need help, leave them alone. If they don’t look confused or like they are searching for something, don’t even ask them to begin with. In fact, I personally prefer for the sales associate to say “let me know if I can help you with anything” instead of directly asking me. What am I supposed to say in response to “Can I help you find something?”

I could say, “Yes, I’m looking for a black blouse with silver buttons down the front, three-quarter length sleeves, not made by a child in Ethiopia; do you have that?”

9. Don’t be rude

One of the easiest ways to make me never want to come back is to be rude to me. When I take you up on your offer to help me with something, don’t act like I’ve inconvenienced you. The first thing that will make me want to do is tell all of my friends what a terrible experience I had. And then I’ll probably write about it on Yelp!

8. Don’t act like you’re a lazy worker

At least fake it enough to make your customers think you’re trying really hard to make the line move faster. One of the most frustrating things about a store being busy is when you have to wait in line for a really long time because the cashier is simply moving slow. We live in a world where things happen every minute. I have things to do. If I’ve chosen to shop at your store, I don’t want to stand in line for half an hour to make my purchase because you’re hungover.

7. Don’t complain about how long you had to work today folding clothes

All of us have to make ends meet. I don’t really care how you’ve chosen to make money. Folding clothes for $7.25/hour is a pretty good deal. Complaining to your friends about your job will probably just make them angry. More than likely, your pals work in fast food, or they’re trying to get enough babysitting clients to make ends meet. Hush up about folding clothes and punching buttons on a cash register.

6. Don’t wear shoes that aren’t comfortable

Retail means standing on your feet for long hours. If the shoes aren’t comfortable, don’t wear them.

Invest in some kicks that will serve you well on the days you’ll be standing for 8-10 hours.

5. Know where everything in the store is located

We all know how annoying it is to ask for help and for the employee to say “I don’t know, let me check.” Because it’s yet another waste of our time, we’re regretting even coming in to spend money there. Take the time to learn where things are so you won’t have to be the reason I’m frustrated.

4. Don’t call off work unless you’re seriously sick

Like heading to the hospital sick. Calling out of a retail job, like calling out of any job, can put your fellow employees and manager behind on their tasks. It’s a pain in the butt to cover for someone who called in “fake sick.” It’s annoying. Just don’t do it.

3. Don’t take a job in retail if you can’t multitask

There are going to be so many times when you’ll be doing more than one thing at once. If you can’t multitask, this isn’t the place for you to get a job. Maybe try parking attendant or movie ticket tearer. The biggest challenge that retail stores face is getting customers to come in and come back. Being an efficient worker will make the customers happier.

2. Don’t pretend like you do not notice the stacks of clothes are a mess

Shopping during a huge sale is awesome because it’s just that — a sale. But what’s not awesome is that nothing is ever in the right place after 50 people go through looking for a size “medium.” If you’re working in retail and you aren’t willing to straighten things up, get a new job.

1. Don’t make the customers feel like you aren’t happy

Act like you love your job. Even though you probably don’t. You don’t have to believe it. You just have to put off a happy vibe.

Lorena graduated from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville last December with a BA in Honors Psychology. After some serious soul-searching, she's decided to pursue a Master's in teaching in order to teach middle school math! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her Whippet mix, Gio, at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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