10 of the Most Annoying Things about Working in Retail

Written by Peter Jones

Even if you love your career in retail, the common truth is that it can really be a thankless job. It’s wrongly considered a job that “anyone” could do, but it takes a lot of stamina, skills, and smarts to juggle the many elements of the gig successfully, and with grace.

Here are some of the biggest annoyances that often come with retail gigs.

1. “The Customer is Always Right.”

That’s just not true. You’ve seen rude customers in stores before, right? As the poor employee working behind the counter, you have to smile and appease that rude person. You have to keep your cool while being berated. It’s hospitality under fire. And if a customer walks in five minutes before you’re scheduled to close, then that’s your problem.

2. Working Double Shifts

You’ll often have to work a 12 to 16 hour shift… for minimum wage. And you’ll be standing. The whole time. And a lot of opening hours are early. That means you need to be there two and a half hours prior to open to make sure inventory is done and things are spic and span.

3. Old People

Old people are lovely, but sometimes someone will come in and pay with a combination of pennies and coupons that they dig out of their purse. Meanwhile the line backs up around the aisles or denim displays and the other customers are growing increasingly irate.

4. The Soundtrack

Seriously. You get sick of the music within five minutes of shopping. Imagine having to listen to it for hours on end, day after day, month after month.

5. Mandatory “Uniforms”

You can’t afford the clothes you sell, even with the 10% employee discount, but still you’re required to wear them. Maybe the company should be required to pay you more, hmm?

6. Working Holidays

You know how you look forward to holidays and three-day weekends and vacations? Yeah, you don’t get those in retail. Because those stores never close. The world doesn’t care if you are fasting for Ramadan, or missing Christmas dinner. You’re working.

7. Being Treated Like You’re Invisible

Customers, even nice customers will often treat you like you aren’t a real person. They’ll be on their phones. They’ll be mumbling at you like you aren’t human. They certainly don’t bother looking at your name tag to ask how your day is going.

8. Silly Rules

Sometimes your company will require you to show up 10 minutes before your shift starts—but won’t compensate you. Sometimes they make stupid rules like outlawing talking between employees. Like that makes employees more positive in their demeanor.

9. Misplaced Anger

Customers hold you personally responsible when things run out of stock. Do they realize you’re not the one that does the ordering? They also get mad if an item was put back on a sale rack by accident, but gets rung up at full price.

10. The Pile of Clothes in the Dressing Room

Seriously. They’re not even right-side out.

About the author

Peter Jones