5 things retail assistants won’t tell you about what working during Christmas season is like

The holiday season can be a nightmare for retail workers

Christmas shoppers look for last minute bargains on the high street
Christmas shoppers look for last minute bargains on the high street

The holiday season is in full, unrelenting swing, and retail sales are expected to peak today due to Panic Saturday as last-minute shoppers attempt to tick off their Christmas present lists before the day itself.

While you stand in line waiting to pay for your bargains, spare a thought for the smiling retail assistants (who are mostly gritting their teeth and bearing it) plugging through this busy period.

Here are 5 things retail assistants won't tell you about what it's like to work during the Christmas season:

Some work on Christmas day to escape family-related problems

The enormous emphasis placed on important "family time" during Christmas can be too much for some people, so working through the holiday period can provide some relief.

One retail worker wrote on Reddit: "At my first job there was a kid who hated his family and would gladly work any holiday. After the schedule was released for the holiday week there was always a rush to switch shifts with [him]."

Last-minute shoppers can be vicious

The stress of Christmas shopping often gets taken out on innocent retail assistants, and the closer it gets to the big day, the shorter tempers become.

One Reddit user wrote: "People get even meaner during the holidays. I’m sorry you have to wait in line so long, but maybe you should do your shopping more than one week before Christmas…"

Another user, who worked in fashion retail, wrote: “Every holiday I worked retail, I would have to hide in the fitting rooms and cry at least once. People are a******s.”

Doing returns and refunds the week after Christmas is a nightmare

According to a survey by price comparison company GoCompare, £223 million worth of unwanted gifts were to be returned to retailers last year, showing how busy retailers get just after Christmas dealing with returns.

Some people looking to get cash back may be quite disappointed, according to Reddit user cremebrulette, who wrote: “People would get legitimately upset with me about how much they were getting back for their gifts. Like I’m sorry that your friend/relative cheaped out on your present, but that’s not my fault.”

Another retail assistant wrote: “I once returned some lady’s hat for $0.01. She looked at me with disgust and said, “And what am I supposed to do with a penny?”

People often blame you for running out of grocery items

Preparing Christmas dinner with little time to spare is a bad idea at the best of times, and some people snap at supermarket assistants or grocers for running out of items they needed two days ago.

One grocer said he'd been accused of destroying dinner many a time: "Do you know how many times I’ve heard “You’re out of [name a product]! You’ve just wrecked my holiday dinner! I don’t care if it’s coming in on the truck in a few hours, that won’t help me now!!!” I have been the destroyer of dinners for years.”

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One Christmas song has about 10 different versions played on repeat in the store

Seasonal songs start playing as early as October for some, leading to months of Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' played on a loop - with about 10 other versions in different speeds.

One worker is so scarred that ten years on, he said: "I will NEVER enjoy a Christmas song again."

Another described their experience: "You get to hear those carols 8-12 hours most days. It’s kind of fun for the first day or two but after that you slowly start to lose your mind. After a while you black out and one day realise it’s February and you don’t know what happened November – January.”

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