5 Shopping Etiquette Tips From A Disgruntled Retail Worker


Working in retail can be a fun and challenging experience. The fun part is getting to see all the new clothes before they hit the racks and making potential friends for life. The challenging parts are the early mornings and late nights, keeping the floor clean and the unavoidable, uncaring, all around rude customers.

Although all this comes with the job, it can be difficult to cope when it becomes overwhelming on a daily basis. I’ve worked in retail for a while and have come across the same problems, just at different locations, so I’m teaching myself to get used to it. Trust me, it’s a learning process.

The one thing we can’t control but wish we could, is the difficult customer. Speaking with my co-workers, I compiled five tips (although there could’ve been more) to give shoppers a peek into what makes us tick about the ones who give us clothes to re-fold and rearrange and maybe the next time you go shopping, you could keep these in mind to quiet that tick.

1. Don’t Unfold My Folds!

I know, I know, you want to see if our size six in basic cardigans is the same as every other store’s size six and the only way to do so is to open it up, throw it back down and then proceed to do the same in all four of the other colors. Wrong!

My dear shoppers/customers, you have no idea how much care we put into those folds, only for you to come over and make it look like a tornado hit the table. This unfolding game especially hurts when we’re not even a foot away, folding a pile of wrecked cardigans and you’re wrecking more!

Just to make it easier on us and to avoid death stares or snarky comments from one of us, look for your size and gently remove it from the neat stack. I promise you, the size is nearly the same in every store. If you’re a borderline six, it’s best to go with the eight.

If you’re coming in the middle of the day or at night, there are cardigans already unfolded, I know, it’s inevitable. But go through those first and then if not please do the latter. This saves us time at the end of the night (some of us don’t get home until 3 or 4 am) and this saves you from those uncomfortable death stares.

2. Be Specific About What You’re Looking For.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and said something in the form of, “I’m looking for pants.” Okay, what kind of pants? What color? Are there patterns? Does it tie at the waist? Where do they fall? See, this can get sticky. So be specific. There are at least 6,471 items in this store and you expect me to point you in the direction of the pants your looking for with that kind of description? Nope. Some of us who’ve heard it too many times before may just walk away, don’t take it personal.

Instead – in the world of iPhones, Androids and basically handheld computers – bring a photo! That way, I can point you in the right direction or at least to the right floor. If you aren’t caught up technology-wise, come in with a very good description where we can play off of what each other is saying and then I can say, “Yes, it’s in that corner but there’s only two left!”

3. Do Not Come Back Weeks After a Season Sale Has Started Asking If Something is Still on Sale.

Everyone knows that all chain stores have big “end of season” sales or even those “one day” sales. But this time around, you couldn’t even make the first week. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt; maybe you were working overtime and missed the six weeks of sales or just couldn’t get to the store, for whatever reason.

In any case, if you finally found time in your schedule to meet up with a friend who tells you, “Girl, I got this jacket for $10, it was 90% off! They had a whole bunch, but I went on the first day of the sale.” Do not come to my store asking me if we still have that $10 jacket. Honey, it’s gonna be gone.

Also in line with 2 and 3, please ask us questions with just a hint of niceness. We are working hard to keep the store together so you can shop until you drop and unwanted rudeness is not appreciated.

4. If There is No One Behind the Counter, That Means You Can’t Check Out!

Any store you go to that is in a heavy traffic area is guaranteed to have lines at the cash register. So, why would you think that at a register with no one behind the counter, you’d be the lucky customer to be first in line?

Please don’t stand there and wait for someone to run behind the counter to ring you up, because they’re not. Some of us have become so immune to the standing customers that we don’t even redirect them to go to an open register. You better book it to the other side of the store or where you saw a line earlier. Standing there and waiting, you’re wasting the second best commodity while shopping, time.

5. Leave the Store When the Music Turns Off – We Want to Go Home!

You and your friends just finished a 3-hour long dinner down the street and aren’t ready to go home yet. Our store is located on a busy street, which means we’re open late. You all stroll in 30 minutes before we close, goofing off and messing up our cardigan stacks. 30 minutes pass by so quickly that in the middle of Rihanna’s new song, thumping over the speakers, she suddenly cuts off. Please don’t think, “Huh, what happened to my jam?” There’s nothing wrong with the speakers, that’s your cue to take your soon-to-be-purchase to the open register and head on home.

Some of you don’t get that cue and still don’t go home, so even when you’re done shopping, you linger and sit on our jeans table or make faces in the mirror with a hat on. No hun. We need to start closing the store so we can catch that last train before it goes completely local. So please, be considerate of your fellow worker and leave. We’ll be open again tomorrow morning.

Photo: Vogue Turkey, Mariano Vivanco