— If you can’t find what you need, don’t punish the staff or manager by yelling or being rude. They didn’t choose the store’s inventory nor do they control the amount of goods available.
— If you’re eating and drinking as you shop, please do NOT leave your food and drink bottles or cups on tables, shelves or the floor — where they will spill, make a mess, be dangerous and ruin the merchandise. Ask an associate, nicely, to throw it away for you, which they will (or should) gladly do.
— If an associate helps you, ask their name so you can be sure they are credited with that sale. Each one typically must meet a sales quota per shift; without those sales credits, their managers have less proof they’re productive, (and won’t be inclined to offer them post-holiday jobs.)
— If you don’t see what you want, ask if there’s more in the stockroom — but if the wait is a long one, don’t wander off. During the holidays, the stock room can be pure chaos so even the hardest-working associate can’t help you as fast as they would like.
— When an associate asks you if you want a store credit card, don’t bite their head off. Management insists they do so. It’s not because they want to!
— Don’t assume that an associate is on commission, (most are not) and is trying to sell you something to earn more. Most do have a daily sales goal to meet, and it can reach four figures.
— If an associate tries to sell you more than one item — even if you didn’t ask for it – it’s also because they’re required to by company policy. Each associate is measured by this standard, called UPTs.
— While you’re shopping, stay hydrated and fed. The more exhausted you, and your kids, are the less pleasant shopping is for everyone. Take breaks! Sit down. Bring a bottle of cold water and some granola bars to keep your energy level up.
— PLEASE keep a close eye on your children. Stores are not designed or meant to be a combination of a garbage can and a playground. They’re dirty and full of ways for a child to get hurt, from smashing into a metal pole to grabbing a fistful of dirt while playing peek-a-boo beneath a row of coats. Associates have neither the time nor the energy to play babysitter.
— Don’t assume the store, or associates or managers, have as much access to web-based information, even about their own products, as you do. Even though it’s logical to expect, many retailers are not investing in this.
— When an associate or manager is helping you, on the sales floor or as they are completing your sale at the register, look them in the eye and listen. They need your full attention to make sure they are properly meeting your needs – and the many demands from senior management. If you’re talking on your phone or texting, you’re selfishly slowing business down for everyone else.
Caitlin Kelly is a 27-month veteran of working part-time for The North Face in White Plains, NY and author of “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail.”
Read an excerpt at malledthebook.com.
And for those who find the idea of shopping Black Friday horrifying...here’s my op-ed at Reuters.com