Spare a thought for your staff today
To the rest of the world, Black Friday is synonymous to the best deals and the biggest sales.
To retail workers, the shopping bonanza is synonymous to stress, so much so that many have come to dread the yearly sales event or chosen never to work in retail around the holidays ever again.
Think of the long lines and the rampage; of shoppers tackling each other over the last item on the shelf and little children screaming for having been dragged into a store in the dead of night.
Once the holiday shopping season kicks off on Black Friday, most retail workers expect nothing but mayhem. Some employees have even ended up getting hurt.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the US, the workload and environment faced by retail workers day in and day out – but especially during the holidays – can negatively affect their health and well-being.
“Heavy workloads, a hectic work pace, insufficient rest breaks, long work hours, and irregular work shifts can cause workers to feel out of control and place them at increased risk for stress,” NIOSH experts said.
Moreover, they observed: “Large crowds and noise from sources like store music, announcements, and shoppers can make the workplace feel unpleasant and raise employee stress levels.”
Black Friday appears to be one of the most terrifying days in retail each year.
HRD has compiled some of the craziest horror stories retail employees have shared online about working on Black Friday:
“I work at the largest lingerie retailer in the [US]. We had a security guard last night for the beginning of Black Friday. A ‘Southern Belle’ mother decided she didn’t want to wait in a 50-person deep line and she would cut. Our security guard asked her multiple times to step to the back of the line or leave. She proceeded to ream him with every curse word in the book and ended by threatening him with a gun she had in her bag. This will be my last holiday in retail.” – kittykatie0629
“The customer who took a s*** in one of my fitting rooms and then wiped his a** with a $125 Polo Ralph Lauren shirt. Nothing more needs to be said.” – Sufiguru1137
A complete breakdown
“I worked for a golf superstore as a cashier. Black Friday customers come rushing in and the line starts. I proceed to scan the first item and nothing ... the registers are completely down and the lines are growing fast. The only thing we could do is take every transaction manually. Write down SKUs, calculate tax, and use the old credit card swipers for three hours. I never worked retail during Black Friday again.” – Steelergrl2310
“The electricity went out in the store and our manager decided we should stay open. It’s weird how few windows are in these stores! It was pitch black inside and the only light came in through the front doors. We had a lot of theft that day, so much that the manager admitted we should have just closed for the day. It was bizarre.” – mickeyperry
Taking too long
“Last year a woman yelled at me for taking too much time to finish her transaction, that her kids were in the car and she didn’t want [Child Protection Services] to take them. Okay then!” – AstronomicalArtist18
“My dad was a police officer when the toy of the year was the Tickle Me Elmo. He responded to a call…of two women beating each other up over one. When he went to break up the fight, one of the women bit his arm.” – jennyanydots711
Flying off the shelf
“A lady came in and wanted one of everything of that fragrance. Lotion, hand sanitizer, body wash, EVERYTHING warm vanilla sugar. Well we ran out of hand lotion in that fragrance. What does she do? She started opening all the stock drawers frantically searching for it, and I mean ALL the drawers. Stuff was flying everywhere. ‘WHERE IS THE HAND LOTION?!’ She never found it, so she dropped everything and left and didn’t buy a thing.” – illdrawyourface
The line to nowhere
“Worked at a store that had a service department. They couldn’t ring up anything at the service counter but they had a computer which made it look like a register. Guy is standing there patiently waiting to be rung up. Finally, somebody notices him and asks what he needs. ‘I'd like to pay,’ he says. ‘I'm sorry this isn’t a register,’ replies the service tech. The guy then proceeds to try and convince the service tech to let him pay because the line for the main registers is three hours long. Of course, the service tech couldn’t because he didn’t have a register. He just had a computer for making appointments and such. So, after 15 minutes of argument, the guy moves off to find the line. Here’s the fun part. While he was arguing, somebody else saw him standing by something that looked like a register and got in line behind him. Then people saw the shorter line and got in behind them. With nobody to control it, the line to nowhere grew quickly. Fifteen minutes was all it took for the not-line to snake all the way around the department.” – IntentionalTexan
‘You can’t get any toys’
“No standout bad customers, but it surprised me how many parents brought their young children out at 3 a.m. and then got mad and would yell at their children for whining/crying because, ‘You can’t get any toys, Christmas is next month. Ask Santa.’ Your kid is exhausted and you dragged them to a toy store.” – because__science
All sold out
“After the first 10 minutes, we were out of [Nintendo] DSs. We decided to hang signs on every window and every other DS display box saying ‘No more Nintendo DS. NO ETA for new ones.’ Well, around 10 that morning we were still extremely busy. So, this lady picked up one of the display boxes without the sign, and waited 35 to 40 minutes in line to purchase it. When we told her, it was an empty box and we didn’t have one to sell her, she threw it behind the counter (at one of our cashiers) and threatened to call the police on us. We apologized for the misunderstanding. She then yelled at the cashier some more and stormed out of the store, but not before knocking two rows of cases off the wall.” – ItsKentK