Retail workers speak up about how they really feel about working in the retail industry.

Why I hated working in retail

Woman raging in front of young woman sitting in trolley

Entitled customers

Customers expect way too much. Every item is expected to be in stock. Every retail worker is expected to have expert knowledge of all products in the store. If the customer isn’t happy about something they expect to get exactly what they want by throwing a tantrum. One minute you’re in their way, the next minute you’re not there when they need you. It’s exhausting.

Lack of progression

In most stores, everyone is paid the same hourly rate regardless of what you do. The only way to earn more money is to progress into leadership roles, such as hourly paid supervisors or salaried managers. This is fine if your dream in life is to manage retail workers, but it absolutely sucks if you just want to earn extra cash. I dread to think how many miserable people there are out there in leadership positions within retail, just because they wanted extra money to buy a house.

Being treated like a child

Where do I even begin? You’ll get stared at by your supervisor if you are spotted talking to a work colleague. You can’t move freely around the store without being questioned for being away from your section. You’re supposed to wait till your scheduled breaks before using the toilet. Any time off sick results in a passive-aggressive “return to work interview” that stays on your record. You’re just not given the basic trust and respect that most people in an office job would take for granted. The truth is, you’re just a number and you’re reminded of that fact often!

Lack of fairness

Promotions are decided well in advance, usually based on how close you are to the decision-maker. You’ll get paid the same hourly rate for working in a freezer as you would for sitting on your arse all day at a checkout. Managers will frequently disagree with your decisions in front of customers to appease them. Managers get to stroll around the store chatting and making lists while hourly-paid workers are expected to be constantly busy.

Everything is temporary

Nothing that you achieve in retail carries over to the next day. If you work down the cereal aisle, it doesn’t matter how perfect you leave it at the end of your shift, it will just get trashed by the customers ready for you to start the process all over again the next day. It’s honestly like groundhog day, without all of the fun aspects, such as being able to punch your boss in the face and get away with it.

If you’re not flexible, you’re screwed

It doesn’t matter if you’re contracted to work 1 hour or 40, you’re still expected to be available at the drop of a hat. You can expect to be begged to stay on after your shifts. Called on your days off. Pressured into coming in early. And if you refuse to comply with these requests, you get guilt-tripped. If you continue to resist then you get blacklisted. Good luck getting that holiday form signed for your birthday.

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