Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top 10 Retail Rules

I'm entering my second holiday season as a retail employee and already I can see the...lack of common sense that many of our customers seem to exhibit the closer Christmas gets. Reader, I'm sure you're a model retail shopper, always showing the best of manners and displaying common courtesy to all around you. If so, read on for purely entertainment purposes. But perhaps you're like the vast majority of the population and your brain short circuits the minute you walk into a shopping establishment, please, take note. I've outlined 10 of the basic retail rules, in no particular order, that you can follow to get the best shopping results and show the Christmas spirit to those around you. I work in a book store so some of them are book store specific, but with some minor context adjustments, I'm sure most of them can be applied to numerous retail settings.

1. Product displays are meant for displaying product.
They are not meant for the following:
-A place for you to sit.
-A place to pile stuff you've spent the last 2 hours looking at but now don't want to buy.
-A place to put your garbage.
-A place for you to sprawl across as you read a book.

2. If a store employee is clearly talking with and/or helping another customer, that's not your cue to jump in with your demands.
Store employees can see you waiting. If you patiently wait your turn, we'd be more than happy to give you our undivided attention, just like we did for the last guy.

3. Remember, when we ask if we can help you, it's not our attempt to insult you to your core.
If you're just looking around, that's great! When we ask if we can help, just let us know and we'll back right off. There's no need to roll your eyes, reply as if we've just kicked your dog or walk away as we're talking.

4. The friendlier and more understanding you are, the harder we want to work to find you what you want.
Generally, the floor staff you talk to are at the bottom of the retail food chain. Especially during the holiday season, when many are just hired for a few months. They're working as hard as they can to find you what you're looking for. If you're grumpy and/or unreasonable, it's not going to help your case.

5. We are not conspiring against you.
If the computer says a book is on the shelf and it's not there, we're not playing a trick on you. Books get misplaced, sometimes they take a while to find their home again and yes, sometimes, even books get stolen.

6. Kids Section does not equal babysitting service
Yes, we love kids and yes, we have a train table but we don't get paid enough to take care of your toddlers while you go get a coffee or peruse the magazines. Is it really that shocking when they wander off and you can't find them? Don't leave your kids unattended!

7. Come informed!
Especially during the holiday season, it's best to come in with as much information as you can when looking for a book. Descriptors like, "It was blue" or "I think it had unicorns in it" usually don't get you very far. Sometimes you can get lucky but don't count on it. Also, ask questions in your head before you share them with the public. When you ask questions like, "Excuse me, do you know all the stories?", you're just asking to be talked about in the staff room.

8. The employee you're talking to has no control over the price of your book
Many books are printed in the US and then shipped to Canada. It goes through more people to get up to our fine country, thus it costs more and is sold for more. It has little to do with the exchange rate. Whatever the reason, the employee who's helping you has no control over the price. Getting upset at them isn't going to get you anywhere.

9. Plan ahead
"My best friend's birthday party is in 25 minutes and you don't have this super obscure book from 20 years ago??? How dare you!" Honestly? How dare YOU!

10. Pretend you're at your grandma's house and clean up after yourself!
We have less time to help customers if we're constantly having to clean up the piles of books/magazines/garbage you leave in your wake. If you don't remember where you got the books from-that's fine! Just leave them by one of the computers or on one of the reshelve carts. But honestly? Garbage? That's not cool. Other people shouldn't have to look, much less touch, the used tissues you leave behind.

I'm sure the closer we get to Christmas and the busier the store gets, I could add to this list but for now, I think this covers it.


  1. Oh yea Jenn! I mentally added some of my "rules" for mall shopping...things I've discovered while tending plants in the Mall in Red Deer....people are....interesting!

  2. At Marks and Spencer the worst was cherry season, when you'd find the cherry pits from people who thought they were entitled to eat food they weren't paying for all over the store. Gross!
    Good luck this Christmas!