I worked in retail for three and a half years. If you add in other jobs I had when I was younger, that probably makes it five and a half all together. I feel it has given me the qualifications to make this statement:
Retail is a bitch.
I will admit, I realized long before leaving the job that it was not for me. However, when you have bills to pay you do what you have to. That being said, I am not a good salesman. Customer service I can do. Getting people to spend more money than they want or need to? Not so much. I think the only other reason I lasted as long as I did (besides needing the paycheck) was that I genuinely liked the product I was selling. Still, working in retail is a bitch because of a few reasons. Yes, I actually have thoughts rather than just a blanket statement.
1- The general population is a pain in the ass. People want things. That’s common knowledge. I want things. You want things. But we also want great quality things for as little money as possible. Now matter how low the price of something is, it’s still too much. Not everyone thinks this way, but this is a minority. So you will be working in a store in the mall and someone will be trying to haggle like they’re at Cousin Willy’s Country Flea Market. When you won’t play the make-a-deal game, since it will usually get you fired, they get pissy with you.
2- If commission is involved in your pay at all, get ready to work in a shark tank. Your co-workers will always be trying to snag a sale from you and from each other. Some people thrive on that type of environment, I guess. I’m just not one of them. For me, the only person I want to compete with is myself. I also have no interest in throwing someone under the metaphorical bus to get ahead, which also happens a lot in retail.
3- No matter how hard you work, people don’t respect you. Maybe it’s a little different if you work on the corporate end, but if you are a salesperson other people will treat you poorly. If you are in high school or college, people will just treat you as the dumb kid working at the store. To be fair, you may be just that, but it doesn’t make you feel better about it. Now if you are an adult, whether you’re a manger or not, people look at you like a somewhat lower class of person. This isn’t right. The people who work this job deserve as much respect as anyone. It’s not an easy job and it eats up a lot of time out of your life. When the average customer treats you like you’re half-man, half slug, the job becomes harder. When you have friends and family ask when you’re getting a “real job”, even though you make more money than them, the job becomes harder.
I have friends who still work in retail. I worry about them, even if they genuinely seem to like what they do. Then there are the people in retail who have made this job their whole life. I worry about them too, because I don’t think any job should consume someone’s life. As much as I’m happy I don’t work in retail anymore, a little part of me thinks that everyone in the world should be required to work that job at least once. If nothing else, maybe it would just make people think twice about being rude to a salesperson. They have enough to deal with already.