Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

Tis The Season: Pros & Cons Of Working The Retail Holiday Rush

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Once again, we have arrived at what I think is safe to consider the best time of the year: the holiday season! This is a time of the year when joy and celebration can be felt by all. As these cheerful fill the air, the retail industry begins to brace itself for the whirlwind of holiday shoppers. This year marks my third year of working during the holiday season, and each year brings its own unique experience. Working retail has a handful of rewarding and fulfilling moments, but also comes with its drawbacks. If you are debating on whether or not you want to work in retail this time of year, follow along as I share some pros and cons that come along with the job.

Pro: The paycheck

This might be the biggest pro that comes with working any retail job during the holiday rush. Due to the increase in customer spending, many employers offer incentives for workers, whether it be a bonus or overtime pay. This boost in income can often be the hidden blessing that many need, as it allows individuals to cover their expenses, repay dues, and a plethora of other instances life throws our way. In all honesty, this time of the year is my favorite, simply for this reason. If you are looking for an income boost, you might want to start working on that application.

sharon mccutcheon 8lnbXtxFGZw unsplash?width=1024&height=1024&fit=cover&auto=webp

Con: the long hours

Although the pay this time of year is extraordinary, it does mean you have to work some gruesome hours. Many stores nationwide have begun to extend their hours, so as to allow for more customers to come in and have the time they need to shop. This means that you may be stuck opening early, or staying late to close.  I am normally scheduled to work mornings, which typically means that my day starts around 8 a.m., and doesn’t end until around 4 p.m. Saying that I am exhausted after a shift is an understatement. These long hours can sometimes lead to fatigue and burnout, which can impact one’s physical and mental well-being. With that being said, don’t let this be discouraging. Although it can be difficult to find a balance between work and finding time to relax, it is not impossible. However, this is more often than not the deal breaker for many when looking for employment.

Tired Work GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

pro: customer interactions

This time of year presents an opportunity for you to engage with a diverse population of customers. To some, this sounds frightful, but I promise you, it is rewarding. Interacting with customers allows you to witness the joy and excitement that comes with the holidays. So many customers love the idea of being able to share gifts with the ones they love, and they love to share with anyone who would listen. Helping shoppers find their perfect gifts, offering recommendations, or simply engaging in casual conversation is nothing short of a positive and uplifting experience. When I first applied for my job, I was terrified of speaking to customers, but as time went on, I loved to start conversations with customers to make their shopping experience easier and to boost my own morale during my shift. For those who enjoy jobs that allow for more social interaction, this aspect of holiday retail work can be a highlight of the job.

con: rude customers

Although interacting with customers can be fun, unfortunately, there are going to be moments when you have to deal with customers who are not the friendliest. The stress of obtaining gifts, waiting in long lines, and many other factors can cause customers to become impatient and frustrated. With that happening, employees find themselves on the receiving end of outbursts or complaints. Personally, I have not encountered many customers who have become upset while I was helping them, but that does not mean I haven’t seen customers get upset with my coworkers. The idea of working with customers does require you to have some thick skin, customer service skills, and a large amount of patience. The constant pressure of trying to please and fulfill customer expectations can be one of the major drawbacks of the retail industry, especially during the holiday season.

Pro: The best way to get gift ideas

One unexpected benefit of having a holiday retail job is gaining knowledge of new trends and popular gift ideas. Assisting customers in their gifting endeavors allows for you to become well-versed in the newest products, and see what is popular. Having this firsthand knowledge can offer ideas for personal gift shopping. Recently, the Stanley Cups are at the top of everyone’s lists. Since their release, customers have come to my store and asked me what colors we have, the sizes, and when we will be getting more in. Seeing how popular these are has inspired me to get a few as gifts, and also tempted me into buying one for myself. Working retail can put you ahead of the gifting curve, as you are exposed to all the products firsthand, allowing for you to start your gift planning before customers. 

con: It can be stressful

Finally, the fast-paced and high-pressure nature that comes with retail holiday work can create a stressful work environment. The increase in customer traffic, inventory challenges, shipment issues, and the constant need to meet store goals all can snowball and create an overwhelming environment for managers and associates. All these feelings can often be felt by everyone on the job, and it potentially leads to an impact on your satisfaction with the job and even your overall well-being. Although there can be moments where you feel tense and overwhelmed by the constant demands of customers and your employers, it is more than manageable.

Black Friday Thanksgiving GIF by NBC - Find & Share on GIPHY

Overall, retail work this time of year has its positives and its negatives. With the large financial gain and unique experiences, it can also come with a demanding schedule and having to interact with customers who can be quite rude. From experience, I will say that working this time of year is not for the weak, but it does come with more benefits than anything else. Each individual’s experience can and will be different, but the overall success in the job comes from embracing both the benefits and the challenges that come from it. If I could offer you any piece of advice, it would be to give it a try. I thought that I was going to be miserable working this job, but I now find myself excited to go to work: to be able to interact with customers, see what new products we received, and of course tp get my paycheck. Hopefully, if you were contemplating applying for a seasonal retail job, this article helped you reach a decision on where you want to work.

Michaela Elam is a sophomore nursing student at the University of Connecticut. She mainly writes articles based around entertainment industry, but is starting to branch out into more topics college centered. Since a young age, Michaela developed a passion for writing, and knew that she wanted to find an outlet to continue while in college. In the future, she hopes to work in the healthcare field as a Nurse Practitioner. In her free time, Michaela enjoys going to the gym, hanging with friends, and going for long drives. She is also an avid listener of R&B music, and is always down for a game of Uno.