I propose that tomorrow, the dreaded Black Friday should be renamed Hug a Retailer Day. I have been a retail manager for twenty-five years. With that comes all the trepidation and angst concerning the upcoming holiday shopping season. While others enjoy time off from work and regular weekends off, retailers like myself and those who serve in restaurants work even more hours than we normally do. That makes enjoying the holidays very difficult for us year in and year out.
And it's not just the hours in the day that matter. Many times it is like throwing grease on a fire. Stores are dealing with a tremendous spike in customer traffic. Most stores aren't built to handle the abuse that five times the normal customers can inflict. Stores are built for 'normal' traffic patterns. Hire more people? That can cause just as many problems as being understaffed. People who have only been on the job for two weeks just don't know how to help customers which leads to unhappy customers.
Shoppers in today's society want everything and they want it now. The stores that offer the best customer service and strive to do so are often the ones screamed at for giving the worst. A shopper will typically walk into a super-duper big box store and walk around for an hour without any store associate saying a word to them. Then, they get to stand in line for another thirty minutes while they wait to check out. After that you exchange a five word 'conversation' with your cashier and are out the door. Nothing says great customer service like never speaking to a store employee.
Then there is the other type of retail stores. Some are locally owned or are specialty retailers. These are the one who offer the really good customer service. They ask you questions about what you want, what you need and offer a smile while trying to help. Unfortunately that is too often returned with rude comments or angry stares from those who feel pressured to buy. Those of us in this retail world are actually trying to help you. We ask because we want you to return when the shopping world is normal again. Have you ever walked into an Old Navy three days before Christmas? That is the customer response they get, ransacked stores and rude customers. (And for the record, I don't work for Old Navy).
Retailers at store level work very hard to make your visit enjoyable and relaxing. We don't control the pricing, how many we were shipped or how fast other people bought them out before you got there. We are working people just like you. If I went into a non-retail business and behaved like many shoppers I would be arrested in less than five minutes.
So come on in, relax and enjoy the season. We'll help all we can and I'm willing to bet if you hug your retailer, I'll bet he hugs back!