Inside look of working retail during COVID-19


Photograph: Maureen McLean/Rex/Shutterstock

Under any circumstances, retail workers are stressed during the holiday. Ensuring every customer is safe, receiving the best customer service and leaving the store feeling accomplished with their shopping is challenging enough. Unfortunately, retail employees working during a pandemic have been more challenging and straining. Here’s an inside look of what it’s like working at a major department store during the holiday while still in a pandemic:

In any store during the holidays, there are always many people needing assistance in finding products, asking questions about a product or arguing about the availability of an item. Something that will never change is a customer’s reaction when you let them know the item they are looking for is sold out. Their immediate response is always “why?” and an employee’s response will always be “because it’s the holidays.” People become angrier, aggressive, and rude when you add a pandemic into the holiday rush. Customers have forgotten that we are in the middle of a pandemic and will walk into the store with no mask and no care for social distancing. It is frustrating to continue to remind people to wear a mask and keep their distance. It is not only for their safety but the staff’s safety as well. Some people do not have a choice but to go to work, and many employees are students who are saving up for school or their future. There are a variety of reactions when a customer is told to wear a mask; the most common is they walk away like they did not hear what you said. Another typical response is customers will roll their eyes as they reach into their pockets to grab their masks. It is not a difficult task to put on a show. 

No matter how many customers frustrate employees by ignoring COVID-19 protocols or store policies on products, we appreciate the customers who care for our safety and put a smile on our faces. We appreciate it when customers ask about our day or have a simple chat with us while helping them. 

The next time you’re shopping, remember to always have a mask, keep a social distance and be mindful of the employees and their safety.

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