Retail employees face plenty of stress during holidays
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Full-time and seasonal employees working the front lines of retailing during the holidays face an enormous amount of stress, says Richard Feinberg of the Purdue University Retail Institute.
Feinberg says that stress is likely to increase this year as retailers keep stores open longer hours and get more aggressive with promotions and sales. Retailers also have lowered inventories, which can mean more frustrated shoppers who can't find what they want.
"Most retail sales associates I have met want to do a good job, but they often feel the strain of the holiday season," Feinberg says.
It is a myth that consumers don't like shopping during the holiday season.
"The customer enjoys the hunt and loves coming home to tell the story of their catch," he says. "So, too, the vast majority of employees have more stories of happily served and friendly customers than the half of one percent who are grumpy and angry."
Still, Purdue research has found that a negative interaction is 10 times more powerful than a positive one.
"The negatives have a greater impact, so it may seem like negative things are happening more often than they actually are."
Stress on employees this year could start at midnight the Friday after Thanksgiving when some stores say they will open their doors. But Feinberg thinks most employees will be fine with the chance to make extra money by working additional hours. He also thinks consumers will show up if the bargains are good.
Feinberg offers these tips to help retail employees deal with holiday stress:
* Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
* Get your own shopping done early so you don't have to worry about it.
* Find a quiet place to relax during breaks, even if it's just for a couple of minutes. And take as many breaks as you are allowed.
* If a customer is difficult, don't take it personally. It's not you.
* If you're busy with a customer and see someone waiting in line, offer a smile and perhaps a word or two to acknowledge that person.
* Remember that your paycheck and employee discount can help you provide a nice holiday for your family.
Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Richard Feinberg, 765-494-8301, email@example.com