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Why Retail Workers Hate Christmas


Words by Matt Huxley

WHAT is this fuckery? Everyone is happy at Christmas! Yeah, no.

It’s that time of year again when every single retail worker in the world dies a little inside. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m this cynical all year round (why someone hasn’t snapped me up is beyond me), but normal workers are merely Grinch-like at Christmas. But shouldn’t everyone be full of Christmas cheer, you ask? The answer is no.

Screaming Children


Frankly, kids give me the shits all year round, but there seems to be a particular abundance of brats at Christmastime when teachers get a two month holiday from them. Seriously, kids these days are so poorly behaved. They scream. They shout. They break everything. They will rip open packets of glitter and scatter it everywhere. And in one case, they will shit on your freshly cleaned floor (I kid you not this actually happened). So don’t go around thinking your kids are all adorable and cute with baubles in their hair. They ain’t!

Christmas Merchandise

Struggling Retailers Launch Holiday Shopping Season Especially Early

Look, I understand the need to sell trees and decorations and ribbon. Really, I do. I appreciate a well-designed tree. I like getting prettily wrapped presents. What I don’t understand is those people that feel every year is a time for them to implement an entirely new tinsel theme. Your tinsel last year was probably fine. You don’t need new decorations. You couldn’t possibly have used ALL that wrapping paper you bought last year (I know you still have some stashed in your cupboard). Frankly, it’s ridiculous, it’s unnecessary, and I’m sick of scanning your multitude of $2 items whilst you run off because you’ve seen a holly wreath that you simply HAVE TO HAVE.

Christmas Carols


This will be a quick one. Nothing grinds my gears more than Christmas carols. I hate remakes of Christmas carols. I even hate Michael Buble’s smooth crooning of them. They are annoying. They are on repeat. You try working a seven-hour day with “Jingle Bells” stuck in your head. Jingle will literally go all the way.

Long Hours

Image - grinch

It’s simple. Retail workers work bloody long shifts during Christmas. This is why our black under eye circles won’t go away.  You don’t go to the all-night-shop, you say? We do. We work every measly minute. We are the people who deal with your grumpy ass at 4am when you can’t find the correct gold taffeta three metre ribbon roll, even though it’s right in front of you. Forgive us if we don’t greet you with a cheery smile.



Now generally most workplaces implement a relatively okay Christmas uniform, red or green shirt etc. This is fine. I’m talking about those workplaces that force you to wear a Santa hat/a Christmas shirt/a badge of Santa/your name badge, tinsel wrapped around some part of your anatomy/antler headbands/a flashing necklace or earrings or bracelet or badge and a Christmas belt (or some combination of the above). We feel ridiculous. It’s got to that stage where I will actively refuse to wear a Santa hat on the grounds that it will fuck with my hair. We look stupid and we know it. Just because we are on minimum wages and most likely students doesn’t mean bosses can dress us up for funsies. We’re human, for chrissakes.

There you have it, this is why all retail workers are in a shit mood from now until February. So next time you think about getting annoyed at the fact that your retail worker is a little uncommunicative at Christmastime, think about what we are going through. Feliz Navidad.


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Customer Service: Why you should be nicer to retail workers.


At some stage in an individuals lives, there will come a time where you have a testing job in customer service. Whether it be serving Happy Meals to ungrateful children crying about the toy they got, or patiently biting your tongue while yet another customer gripes at you about something that is out of your control, many customer service and retail jobs may not always be the absolute highlight of our days.

Now we all have bad days – there’s been times I’ve rolled my eyes at terrible customer service, and times I’ve been on the receiving end of rude or tired customers. Either way, it’s not fun. But here’s a list of reasons why we should try and remember to be nice to retail workers. After all, they probably already got 99 problems, and yours is just another one.

1) Retail workers could also be doing better things with their day.

You might be annoyed you have to ruin your Sunday by going grocery shopping, so when the checkout chick (or dude) is scanning your items, you’re probably rolling your eyes, checking your watch and snorting impatiently through flared nostrils. “How are you today?” The checkout assistant will ask in a monotone voice. That monotone isn’t anything to do with you so don’t take it personally. While you’re probably annoyed you’ve wasted an hour of your time buying mundane things like toilet paper and washing powder, this assistant has probably already scanned those items numerous times over the last few hours and is ready to go home. After all, who willingly wants to be spending their Sundays serving cranky people who are mad that the weekend is almost over? No one.

2) Retail workers have to smile and act like the customer is always right. Even when they are clearly not. 

Ahh this one is an old favourite. ‘The customer is always right!’ Whoever coined that phrase is clearly wrong. Any retail worker that’s good at their job, knows there is nothing more infuriating than a know-it-all customer acting like they are superior.

Scenario: A lady came storming up to me in my workplace (a cinema) the other day.
“Do you enjoy making people wait out in the cold? You opened the doors late today!”
Regardless of the fact I’m not God so I don’t have control over the weather, nor am I Satan who would receive enjoyment out of making people suffer, I had to politely let her know we open our doors at 9.45 am. She was complaining to me inside at 9.46am.
“Well you should advertise that!” She replied huffily. I pointed towards the door where I said it was indeed written down.
“WE ALL CHECKED, NONE OF US SAW IT!” She shrieked, her face bright red.
In this case the customer is wrong. But you have to nod along, pretend you lied about the opening times being on the door and try and serve her with a smile that probably looks more like a grimace.

3) Retail workers have to deal with cranky people ALL DAY.

Following on from the above point, sometimes there are days, where every person in the city is in a bad mood, and they just happen to enjoy taking it out on the poor soul working behind the counter. Okay this may be a slight exaggeration, but working in retail or customer service can sometimes make you feel like you’ve got a flashing neon sign above your head stating: “Please yell at me. Call me a moron. Throw any other insults my way. Blame me for everything that’s going wrong in your day. No, seriously, that’s what I’m here for.” 

That’s a very big flashing neon sign.

Would you personally want to keep smiling, talking to and dealing with a person who’s blatantly rude to you and probably just insulted you because they’re having a rough day? I’m going to take a wild guess and assume probably not. So there’s no reason to take it out on the wrong person. They may be getting paid to help you, but their pitiful wage does not even begin to cover all the panadol they’ll need for the headache cranky customers are giving them.


4) Retail workers do not make the rules/prices:

Things are always going to be too expensive no doubt. When taking a family to the movies (2 adults, 2 kids), you’re already looking at $50 and that’s not including popcorn or drinks.

Just like I don’t decide what time doors open at the residence where I’m working, I also don’t decide on prices. In fact 9 out of 10 times, I’m probably feeling bad about charging you what seems like a ludicrous amount of money. And here’s another tip: complaining to me, and then demanding me to tell my boss to change prices is still not going to work. My boss gives about as much fucks as you give about how long it took me to get out of bed that morning. Which is none.

If you’re going to a shoe shop to buy a new pair of heels, you’re probably going to expect to be spending a bit of money. You won’t be going up to the counter, having the shoes scanned, and then upon hearing the price,  throw a tantrum that would make a two year old proud. Because you know when you purchase those shoes, it’s hardly the fault of the person serving you. If you want to blame anyone, blame the designer. Or you know, yourself for buying the shoes. Likewise if you go to the movies don’t blame the random person behind the candy bar for the price of a bag of Malteasers. Chances are they already agree with you that $6 a bag is ridiculous, and chances are they are also secretly thinking you’re a moron for not stopping at the Woolies up the road first and buying a $3 bag. Just sayin’. The staff are not food nazi’s. If you buy your confectionary from another place and then go into the cinema, I’m not going to go all Gandalf on you and not let you pass.

5) When you can, help make their job easier.

Is it necessary to tip you popcorn over the floor? I don’t think so. Is it really hard to put your used tissues in the bin on your way out instead of leaving them for someone else to clean up?  I mean, really. That’s just gross.

When you walk through a clothes store, and you’re rifling through shirts and one falls, does it make you feel better just casually kicking it under the rack for a worker to find later? DOES IT? DOES IT REALLY?  Is it worth yelling at a worker because something doesn’t fit you/something broke/something was manufactured wrong etc? It may be a good way to release your own personal rage, but chances are you just made someone else angry or feel like shit.

I used to also work at Factorie, a clothing store. One time a lady came up with me, furious her new jumper had a hole in it.
“WHAT IS THIS?” She yelled, shaking it in my face.
Biting my tongue to stop myself from pointing out the obvious (‘It looks like a jumper to me’), I told her she could exchange it. She did, and was about as ungracious as Amanda Bynes is to the rest of humanity. Handy tip: The people at the clothing stores don’t make the clothes, nor design them. The damage to your new jumper was NOT DONE ON PURPOSE. How about a polite ‘thanks for your help’ and everyone can be on their merry way.

Customer service workers aren’t peasants put on earth to listen to your griping, deal with your anger, and politely agree with your insults. Do not underestimate the simple gesture of kindness and what a polite ‘thank you’ or smile can do to turn someone’s day around.

Article by Tahlia Pritchard who has been working in customer service jobs for about five years too many. You can watch her daily mental breakdowns after a shift at the cinema unfold on her twitter. 

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Kmart To Employee: ‘If You Do Not Come To Work On Thanksgiving, You Will Automatically Be Fired’

Kmart Thanksgiving


Kmart will open its doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day this year and remain open for 42 hours, meaning that many employees will have to come to work to staff shifts. While the company says it tries to fill the slots with volunteers or seasonal hires, workers are reporting that the reality on the ground is very different.

Jillian Fisher, who started a petition on asking Kmart to give her mother and other employees the flexibility to take the holiday off, surveyed 56 self-identified employees from more than 13 states. Of those, just three said they had the option to ask to take the holiday off. In a press release from the petition organizer, one employee said human resources has told them, “if you do not come to work on Thanksgiving, you will automatically be fired… I made the request to work a split shift on Thanksgiving and was denied.” Another said, “Our manager stated at a staff meeting: ‘Everyone must work Thanksgiving and Black Friday. No time off.’” At one location, an employee says signs have been posted in the break room saying workers can’t request time off on Thanksgiving or Black Friday and that everyone has to put in at least some time on both, while at another signs have been posted saying no one can request time off between November 15 and January 1.

“I am a lead at a Kmart and it is mandatory for me to work on Thanksgiving,” another employee said. “If I were to call out I would be terminated, and requesting off is not allowed.”

Only seven surveyed employees said their stores had given employees the chance to volunteer for a holiday shift. “[A]t my store, they scheduled workers who aren’t seasonal and who DIDN’T volunteer to work on Thanksgiving,” one said. Another said, “I didn’t volunteer to work on either of these days they just pretty much scheduled me regardless if I had plans or not on Thanksgiving.”

And most workers have no idea whether they’re going to be asked to give up some of their Thanksgiving dinner to come to work, even with the holiday a week away. Forty-three percent of the surveyed employees said they still don’t know their schedules for Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Fisher says that her mother has sometimes found out her schedule as little as a day ahead of time.

They may be in for a rude surprise: of those who know their schedules, all but two have to work on Thanksgiving, while about three-quarters also have to come in the next day.

In response to questions about the survey results, a company spokesperson said in a statement, “Again, we reiterate that our stores do their very best to staff with seasonal associates and those who volunteer to work holidays. Seasonal associates are told upon hire of our holiday store hours and we make every effort to accommodate associate shift requests during this time. Associate schedules are posted, on average, two weeks in advance – including for holiday schedules. All associates are compensated time and a half pay for the hours they work on Thanksgiving Day. We continue to express deep appreciation in advance to all associates who will be working Thanksgiving and Black Friday.”

Kmart employees aren’t alone in being asked to come to work on the holiday. Twelve retail chains will be open, requiring millions of people to leave home. Erratic and last-minute schedules are rampant in the industry, so others may also be in limbo waiting to find out whether they will miss out on time with friends and family. And no American is guaranteed a paid holiday off, so many others may find they aren’t able to request the time off.

Some stores, on the other hand, are deciding to just stay closed and let employees be at home to celebrate: 17 have announced they will not open on Thanksgiving. Many say it’s to allow their workers to take a break and be with loved ones.

Fisher will keep the momentum going in the pushback against Kmart. “I plan to continue to fight not just for my mother, but for every family that has had to choose between spending time together and working longer hours,” she said. “We are simply asking Kmart to display more effort when it comes to allowing employees to request off or volunteer to work on Thanksgiving.”


This story has been updated with a new statement from Kmart.


Kmart workers shared the following photos of signs posted in their workplaces saying that employees can’t take days off during the holidays:




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