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How to be a good holiday shopper 

Tips on retail etiquette from a reluctant mall veteran.

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The scene: Christmas music oozes from the tinny mall sound system, thicker than corn syrup. Crowds jostle, sweatily clutching bags of gifts in overloaded arms. Everyone’s in a hurry because the countdown to Santa’s big scene is on, damnnit, plus there’s still supper to make and gift wrapping to do—not to mention the tree doesn’t decorate itself. The collective stress scents the air.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unless, perhaps, you work in retail—then this setting is one that’s all too familiar, navigating heightened sales expectations and irritated customers for minimum wage, ringing through orders as Santa’s shadow loomed larger and larger. Here’s how to do your part and not be the asshole who ruins a retail worker’s entire shift during this stressful season.

DON’T get automatically pissed off when we ask if there’s anything we can help you find today.
It’s literally our job to ask you this.

DO be aware of the crowds when you ask for help.
When I worked at a certain chain women’s clothing store, part of the gig was helping customers put together outfit ideas. This was the most fun part of the job—except during the holiday rush when dozens of shoppers are waiting to pay for their orders and one lady interrupts the line to hypothesize about turtleneck and pinafore outfit combinations. NOT THE TIME, SUSAN!

DON’T ask to see a manager for no reason other than your own self-importance.
Even when shops hire seasonal staff, we’re still often underprepared for the crowds. If you have a complicated return that needs a manager’s assistance, we’ll gladly get you one—but if you just want those jeans on the top shelf, let’s respect everyone’s time and just let a sales
associate fetch them.

DO leave displays as you found them.
A general life rule that takes on added significance when holiday crowds leave store employees less time to clean up after you. You truly do not have to knock over the entire tower of sweaters to reach your size. Trust.
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Vol 26, No 29
December 13, 2018

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