Boxing Day sales hell
If you’re not blessed with a trust fund or similarly cashed up and generous parents, chances are you have worked in retail at one point of your life. Some of you may still work in retail, and for that I take my hat off to you. Sure it can be enjoyable at times. The staff discounts are enviable perks, your co-workers can brighten things up a bit and the people-watching is at its peak. But for every pro there is a very large con that is – retail destroys Christmas.
No this isn’t an exaggeration, and for those lucky few who have never had to work in retail, you will never be able to comprehend what us retailers have been through. Listening to nothing but Christmas carols everyday for three weeks is enough to make anyone fly over the cuckoo’s nest. Having a large, sweaty, unkempt man creepily call you ‘sweat heart’ while strapping on his Santa Clause costume breaks the inner Christmas child. And just when your feet are beginning to go numb from standing for consecutive 12 hour shifts, your skin is dying from the stale recycled air-con and you haven’t had time to eat all day because your half-an-hour-break was the only time you could finish your own Christmas shopping – Christmas Eve comes.
Usually Christmas Eve is the time to watch corny Christmas movies, swim in the pool with your cousins and coo at the neighbours Christmas lights, but in the retail world, Christmas Eve means the end of Christmas. Once the store closes for the day everything that was there to signify the festive season is hastily torn down. Trees are chucked, tinsel discarded and in their place a mass of SALE! signs are hung. Within a few hours it’s as if Christmas never even existed. By the time you leave work at 7pm, while happy families are at home enjoying Miracle on 34th Street by their Christmas tree, in your heart Christmas is already over and doomsday is looming.
Boxing Day is the biggest day of the trading year and absolute hell for all of its employees. It’s a day that forces people to loose all logical thought, run up escalators and push past people in order to save $6.25 on towels.
Amongst the long queues of impulse buyers and people spending their Christmas money, Boxing Day is also a day when people think it is a good time to return or exchange their Christmas gifts. These people are sadly mistaken. Boxing Day is the WORST day to return an item. Doing a return is time consuming to say the least let alone when the phone is ringing off the hook and you have four customers asking if you have any more *insert product* out the back (for the record, on Boxing Day we bring everything we sell out the front. The back is left empty. That’s all we got, so don’t bother asking).
Boxing Day is also a time where you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. If you’ve waited in line for an hour and the cashier forgets to give you your five cents change, let it slide. This may sound obvious to most, but you’d be surprised, as you can see from a fellow retail worker’s story:
“My worst Boxing Day story was when I sold a customer a sale item for about $4, only to have the customer return 5 minutes later saying that it was meant to be 80% off, not 75%, and they wanted the difference of about 55c. After giving them the difference, they then returned yet again an hour later wanting a refund saying they changed their mind.”
Yep, this stuff actually happens.
Boxing Day is also a day of never ending cleaning. For some crazy psychological reason, when people see sales signs on Boxing Day, they completely loose their shit and feel the need to touch/unfold/hold/drop everything, leaving the store with more stock on the floor than on the shelves at the end of the day. Throughout this wasteland of discounted items, retail workers have the lovely chore of cleaning up the various rubbish presents left behind by loving customers. Starbucks cups are quite popular, fast food wrappers and tissues are a regular occurrence too, but even the absurd things get left behind amongst the piles of discounted polo shirts; condoms, avocado seeds, even used bras.
Yep this stuff happens.
Having said all this, most customers are genuinely thankful for your work on the day. Some even apologise for shopping. These people are very much appreciated, and for the others that aren’t so kind, the retail worker gets their own secret revenge in the end. Like another fellow worker put it:
“Boxing day is the only day of the year where you get paid double time rates and can get away with treating customers like common trash…”
Happy Festivus everyone!
Published on The Vine