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The Holiday Retail Nightmare

When I was a child, going to the malls to buy gifts was fun for me; there were so many people, and the decorations were beautiful. I always saw people running around with their shopping bags, but I never looked at the employees who had to refold one table of shirts five times because customers kept messing it up, or the cashiers who were getting yelled at for policies they could not change. Since I was around 16 years old I have worked in retail, and therefore have had to survive holiday rushes multiple times.

As usual, with December quickly approaching, so is the rush of people that are soon going to be invading the malls for gifts and decorations. These past two years, a lot of people have told me they were doing their shopping early, starting even in October! They knew there would be deals closer to Christmas time, but it was not worth the craziness that would erupt on December 1st. After hearing what their plans were, I knew they were right, and I started to do my Christmas shopping early, too. But for me, there was no way of ever avoiding the mall in December because I work in a retail store, and December is a “black out period”. This means no time off no matter what: it is expected of you to work almost every day, and come December 27th, the frenzy would come to a halt.

After working for at least four Christmases in retail, I noticed that as Christmas approaches, customers become even more frantic to buy their gifts, which brings along their rudeness. I used to work at the jewelry store Pandora, and customers would come on Christmas Eve and get mad at us for being sold out of the charm they wanted. Sometimes customers would get really rude and personally blame us for having ruined their Christmas. But then I questioned: how is this my fault? When January came along, I was so proud of myself for having survived this nightmare, but then realized I hated shopping during December. Working in retail made me see the mall as a crazy maze, with angry people who were running around, only caring about themselves. I instantly wanted to change this perspective; I loved all things Christmas before, and shopping was one of the things I cherished.

With my various experiences of working in retail, especially during crazy rushes, I decided not to let customers bother me anymore. One of the best suggestions given to me was: always smile, apologize and be as nice as possible. At first, it is annoying when a customer is being so mean to you – how can you be nice? But if you are super nice, at a certain point, their words stop having meaning to them, and the customer just becomes the bad person. After you have apologized endlessly, the customer has nothing else to say. Their yelling comes to a stop when they have no conversation. Another tip is not to take anything personally. The customer might be yelling at you because you don’t have something in stock, but realistically everyone knows it is not the employee’s fault. They are most likely yelling because they are mad at themselves for waiting until the last minute to get it or because something else has gone wrong in their day.

This year I kept all of this in mind when working and when going to buy Christmas gifts. Living in Brantford, sometimes the shopping options are limited compared to my home city Mississauga. The mall is smaller, and some stores are a little repetitive, so last year I never tried; instead, I ran around in Mississauga when everything was already sold out. With my positive mentality that I am trying to have this year, I decided that the mall was not bad because it fits all of my holiday needs! Working in the mall has also introduced me to some other employees within the mall, and going into their stores makes it a nicer experience because we are all dealing with the same holiday stress. Christmas has been my favourite holiday since I was 12 years old, and I think bringing back all of the Christmas love and cheer is my goal this season!

Laura Gracia

Wilfrid Laurier '21

I am currently a second year study at Laurier Brantford, i’m studying criminology and I have loved it so far! I am planning to go to law school in the future and maybe, get a masters degree in politics.
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