April Davis

HELP ME! I work in retail and it’s Christmas!

Image: AAP

It’s a hectic time of year to be a retail shopper, but April Davis would like a little Christmas cheer sent to those such as herself working in Christmas retail.


If you utter so much as one syllable, I’LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND GUT YOU LIKE A FISH! If you’d like to fax me, press the star key.”

To all the hostile Christmas shoppers out there, yes I would like to hunt you down and give you a good smack in the face. You may have left my store, but your attitude has already stolen away my Christmas cheer. To all these shoppers, you make the Grinch’s answering machine message sound like my default attitude.

Now I’m not usually a grumpy person. I used to love Christmas. I love the festive cheer, the food, seeing my family and of course the presents, but working in retail makes me hate my life. Literally. To show you why, here are a few examples of customers I encounter every day.

The you’re my slave do shit for me customer:

These are the customers that think your job entails everything, right down to wiping their ass. They basically want you to hold their hand for painfully long periods of time and do their shopping for them. They want you to put their rubbish in your bin, take their tiny bag of shopping to their car for them, all the while being derogatory and rude.

Then you have the indecisive customer:

These ones are the worst because they wear you out the most. “I want this item.” Worker gets it from storeroom; “actually I don’t like that one, I want this item.” Worker goes back to storeroom. You put the sale through then it’s, “actually I think I might look elsewhere, can I have a refund?”

Finally, my personal favourite, the walks in two minutes ’til close and wants to browse for 20 minutes customer:

I’m certain they do it on purpose. They’re trying their hardest to antagonise us, and it works. They refuse to leave even after you dim the lights, switch the music off and close the doors. Then for their final gift to you, they leave without purchasing a damn thing.

I believe that when it comes to shopping, us humans are just like bears. 90 percent of the crappy customers go into hibernation for most of the year and only wake up during peak shopping times, ie stock take sales, Christmas and Boxing Day. Thank God we’re not in America with their glorious Black Friday initiative. But back in the land down under, according to IBISWorld, retailers are expected to see a growth of up to 90 percent in their month on month sales during December and early January. So basically the shops are going to become hectic.

During this mayhem, customers seem to forget that retailers have lives too. While you’re kicking your feet up at night with your families, we’re slaving away with 24-hour trade, dealing with everyone’s frustrations. Yes, we know the carols are annoying. We’re listening to them too. Yes, we know the car parks are full. We had to leave for work 20 minutes earlier to allow for that, then park across the street because we couldn’t find one.

I would also like to take this time to remind everyone that without the staff, the shops don’t open; if the shops don’t open, you can’t play your role of the mindless consumer and therefore can’t do your precious last minute shopping. If we can’t find a car park, we’re late to work; if we’re late to work, it will take longer for you to be served, and that’s not our fault.

Don’t get me wrong, we all appreciate the extra money you’re spending. We understand Christmas shopping can be stressful. But please don’t take advantage of the people who are trying to help you.

Thankfully, in amongst the horrid people that don’t see us as fellow human beings, you get a couple nice customers. Other retail workers are the best ones. They put stuff back where it came from, they don’t take up any more of your time than necessary and if they see you holding your wallet and a McDonald’s burger they understand that you’re on your break and they don’t hassle you. My only request is that the rest of the world takes note and learns from the actions of the few.

I don’t want to be the Grinch at Christmas, so please don’t make me that way.


April Davis

April Davis, a young Melbourne-based writer finishing a degree in professional writing and publishing, is an aspiring novelist flirting with the idea of historical fiction. She spends most of her time reading, writing and contributing book reviews to online publications.

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