The price of retail
Working in retail holds many benefits and encumbrances
January 25, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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The holidays have come and gone. While it may have been great to spend time with family and friends, it is also a time for spending and making money, that’s if one worked in retail during the holiday season. Many retail companies look to hire a great amount of employees for seasonal positions for the holiday rush. The approved applicants’ first day on the job can be as early as in October, ending their days on the job sometime in January.
Having worked in retail for two years, with one of them being in a mall environment, I came to learn a lot about the trade between capitalistic American companies and the experiences that come with working with customers. During my time in retail I met many amazing co-workers and had a great employee discount at the store. A common question that I was asked is: If working in retail during the holidays is stressful and what’s the overall atmosphere of being in a retail setting during what is coined as the most wonderful time of the year?
Many applicants may feel that a job opportunity in retail may be great, however, there are a lot of things that accompany the job that many applicants should be aware of: Retailers may pay their seasonal and starting employees at minimum wage, which may not seem a lot depending where the person was hired and the state they are currently working in; the countless amounts of hours an employee is scheduled for during the holidays, which adds up to a lot of money; and let’s not forget the possibility of working overtime during a shift, when a person works more than 40 hours a week time and a half is paid. The catch is, when someone is working in retail and is scheduled so often, the employee may not have much time for themselves during the holidays or enough time to spend with their family or simply relax during their break.
The employee has to take into account having to spend an extra hour getting dressed for work, driving to work in possible traffic, and lastly finding a parking space if they work at a mall, which is very packed during the holiday season. It does not stop there,especially when the employee may also have to spend time driving home in traffic after an eight hour shift.
Whether a person is ringing up a customer at the cash register or is making constant trips from the stockroom to the sales floor, the employee also may have to bear with many customers who can be the sweetest people on the planet, who are having a bad day and can be rude. Many employers are required to train their employees, but it can be questionable whether each person received adequate training, similar to that of permanent employees. For the first couple days a new employee may have many questions for their managers about handling situations or just frequently asked questions about certain products, which is completely normal for any person who has never worked in retail.
Lastly, if a person who is working a seasonal job wishes to pursue a permanent position with their employer, they may be facing a lot of competition with other seasonal employees. It may also require impressing the store manager, becoming a person who is reliable, covers shifts when they are called, in when they are needed or simply great customer service.
“If you need a job, take it”, said Ignacio Cervantes, a fourth year Psychology major, who worked in retail for 3 years. Cervantes was a full-time stock supervisor and said, “Understand that it really shouldn’t be your last job.”
Working seasonal during the holidays is a great opportunity to pursue a permanent job, if the person is willing to leverage with many of the burdens, because it’s not every day that retailers have the “Now Hiring” sign on display.