Working in Retail Sucks

Anyone who is working in retail knows what a pain it can be, and how little compensation you receive for all the trouble and abuse you have to take. For starters, you usually only make minimum wage, which has not been a cost of living salary for about the past 50 years. That means that not only do you have to put up with one retail job, you most likely have to hold down more than one at the same time.

That means you experience twice as much abuse at the hands of disrespectful and demanding customers as well as incompetent managers and bosses who have no idea what they’re doing. Many of the managers in retail had absolutely no managerial experience before being put into that role, and it is often the case that they manage more from a place of ego that from a strategic or effective perspective. Even though their responsibilities are so insignificant, they have an inflated view of their position and their titles – and they feel like it is their big chance to lord it over all of their fellow employees. Most of them are focused not on how to efficiently and effectively run a business, but on how to ingratiate themselves to the owners by kissing-up to them.

Worse still, you may have a manager who is also the owner. These owner-operators of small businesses are particularly prone to putting their own interests ahead of the interests of their employees. The way they see it, the goal is to get the most work they can get out of an employee for the least amount of wages. Retail sucks because oftentimes your own boss will try to cheat you out of the hours you worked, or will have you come in early or stay late, without compensating you fairly with overtime pay. Not only do they not pay actual overtime wages, but they expect you to be on call even when you are off the clock. They’ll call and email you at night and on weekends, for example, or make you pick up a shift or part of a shift on short notice. Even if you have to come into work for only an hour or two – which is not worth it if you are earning minimum wage – that can be enough to disrupt your whole day and whatever personal plans you may have made.

Last but not least, there are the customers, who may be the biggest reason that having to work in retail sucks. So many of them feel completely entitled, just because they are spending a little money or flashing their credit card. They will blame you if what they purchased didn’t work, doesn’t fit, or isn’t in stock – even though you have nothing to do with any of that. They’ll curse at you over the phone, scream at you abusively in person in front of the whole store, or report you to your manager just because they are having a bad day – or just because they know they can get away with it. They’ll hold up a long line just so they can recheck the cash register receipt or because they were too spaced-out to bring enough money to pay for everything in their shopping cart. They’ll badger you because you won’t accept their expired coupons, and they’ll act indignant if you don’t take all that abuse with a fake smile on your face.

The bottom line is that if you are an employee working in retail, it just sucks.


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