The Christmas Retail Rollercoaster

I’ve really needed a job to undo my financial errors. To be blunt, I was very financially reckless last term, knowing fully well that I was spending more than I was getting, and that nothing could really bail me out. Therefore, I decided to return to my gap year job in retail.

Being the most busy season of the year, they welcomed me with open arms!

Working during the Christmas holidays has been a blessing, but not without its stresses. This blog post outlines the good and bad parts of Christmas retail.

The good parts

  1. Money! Ultimately, I needed this job because the minus sign on my bank statement was turning my blood cold. If you’re sensible, unlike me, this money can be handy to save for a rainy day.
  2. Social life. Work colleagues are just awesome. You can tell them anything, and there is so much gossip – particularly in fashion retail. Some of the stories I’ve heard are too vulgar to write, but I’ve heard of work romance, mishaps on nights out, and even touching stories like one of my colleagues turning his life around. Retail is such a great place to make friends and have a laugh.
  3. Customers. Some are absolutely awful, but some are so lovely they make up for it. I’ve had some unforgettable conversations with customers. I once talked for half an hour with a man who went to NASA, and the details were so interesting I almost forgot I was meant to be tidying clothes up and getting the rails from fitting rooms out. Another shout out goes to the customers who are kind and compliment retail workers.
  4. Leaving a bit early on Christmas Eve, this was just lit.
  5. Everyone’s going through hell, so it’s okay. This time of the year, working in retail is slightly traumatising with all the customers dashing through the store, exhausted team leaders, and sales which look like a hurricane ran through them. However, every other employee feels the same, and it’s oddly therapeutic to vent about it. Nothing else could have got me through the 9 hour shifts.
  6. Obligatory nice CV filler pro.

The bad parts

  1. Abuse. I definitely got it worse when working at a popular food retailer last year,  but some customers are definitely less than pleasant.
  2. Struggling to find time to do everything. Thanks to Monster energy drinks, I managed to get lots of work done before Christmas by working after my shifts into the early morning hours. However, this isn’t really healthy, so I don’t recommend this technique. It’s difficult to juggle a job and uni work, and I’ve definitely had to put sleep on the back burner!
  3. Stress. Christmas retail is the most stressful thing! There have been filled up fitting rooms with a queue of customers waiting to even try clothes on, whole sections of the store looking like a complete and utter mess, colleagues crying in private, and don’t get me started on the thefts! Christmas truly is stealing season, and every time I’ve found a fitting room with tags left under the chair, I’ve died inside a bit more. You would not believe how common stealing is.
  4. Exhaustion. The exhaustion is a lot! My hours have been nothing compared to last Christmas, but I’ve gotten sick more, and I’ve been falling asleep as soon as I get home for the past week even if my favourite show is on.

Regardless of all the horrible parts of the job, I have really loved working as well. It’s a break from uni work, it’s helped me pay for my mistakes, I’ve reconnected with old friends and made new ones, and ultimately it’s been a rollercoaster both good and bad. I remember last year’s retail stint like it was yesterday, and there have been some hilarious memories from this year that I’ll be laughing about in 6 months time for sure!

 

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