Christmas Shopping Through the Eyes of Sales Assistants

Christmas shopping - Photo credit: Carmel (flicker)

It’s Christmas, well not yet, but nearly. Since the big man in the red cape is coming for a visit soon, shopping, presents, and more shopping are all that seem to be on people’s minds. So, with the buying frenzy upon us, what’s the view like from the other side of the counter?

This journalist interviewed three sales assistants, from the shops of Dublin, to see what they think of our Christmas consumerism tendencies.

What changes do you notice in the run up to Christmas?

Joey: “People get a bit of a Christmas spirit, they get a bit more people friendly. A lot of people are looking forward to coming home and spending time with their family, it’s an exciting time.”

Matthew: “Everyone comes in looking for tens of things, it’s not just one thing, it’s not relaxed shopping. It’s just rush, grab this, grab this and grab this.”

Jennifer: “The shop is a lot more hectic. The sales assistants have to work a lot harder to make sure the customers are happy.”

Christmas shopping - Photo credit: Carmel (flicker)
Christmas shopping – Photo credit: Carmel (flicker)

Is there a change in the customer’s behaviour?

Joey: “It varies so much, it depends on the individual obviously. Some people are coming in and they’re just like rush rush. They just want to get everything done and they’re not really having the chats or anything, and then other people have a bit of a buzz, they’ve come into town and seen the lights and had some hot chocolate or mulled wine, and they’re in good spirits.”

Matthew: “They’re not as relaxed, they’re like why don’t you have this, why don’t you have that. They’re argumentative sometimes, rather than being like ‘ok will you get it in soon do you think’. they’re just like ‘I want it now'”.

Jennifer: “A lot of them would be very panicked, very rushed to get their Christmas presents. A lot of them would get frustrated if you don’t have the sizes that aren’t on the floor.”

Busy shoppers - Photo credit: Frank Gab&Tor (Flicker)
Busy shoppers – Photo credit: Frank Gab&Tor (Flicker)

What’s the hardest part of the pre-Christmas buying period?

Joey: “Busy times, when it just gets intensely busy. It’s the transition of the quiet Mondays to the busy Mondays, the change in pace of activity within the shop.”

Matthew: “Dealing with tricky customers. You offer them alternatives but then they get argumentative with you, as if it’s like your problem. It’s not me that doesn’t have it, we can only sell what we have in front of us.”

Jennifer: “Probably the long hours. The customers can be very messy, so there’s a lot more of a clean up before the store opens and then after, the replenishment of the stock takes a lot of work too.”

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What are the most annoying things customers do at this time of the year?

Joey: “Ask for gift receipts after they’ve purchased something, that’s a no-no. Coming and asking for an extra small hoody when there’s a massive queue, yea good luck, have you heard of the internet. Asking me would this fit my son, I don’t know your son, so unless you want to bring in a cut out of him or a ruler.”

Jennifer: “Probably being rude towards sales assistants. I find that very frustrating because I don’t think they realise that we try our hardest to make sure that they get good customer service, even though we may be serving five people at the same time. So, if we’re trying as hard as we can it’d be nice for them to realise that we’re trying, rather than give out.”

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What’s the worst retail experience you’ve had on the run up to Christmas?

Joey: “Probably finding out my Christmas hours last year, that was pretty bleak. Realising that like my Christmas wouldn’t exist basically.”

Matthew: “Getting a pair of boxers thrown at me. A customer had tried them on, they didn’t fit and then they were wondering why we wouldn’t take them back. How would you like it if you were buying boxers that someone else had tried on?”

Jennifer: “I had a customer come in, very frustrated, she was screaming at me because we hadn’t got the jacket she was looking for. I had to try and explain to her that the jacket was older stock and we didn’t have it anymore, but that just made her very mad.”

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Is there anything you really wish you could say to the customers?

Joey: “Sometimes I feel like I can’t really say Merry Christmas like because I think I should be saying happy holidays, because like you do get a lot of non-nationals coming in and I feel like I’m just pushing religion on them a bit.”

Matthew: “It’s not always the sales assistant’s problem if you can’t find something, it’s not our fault. Don’t take it out on the sales assistant.”

Jennifer: “Get out of the store, we don’t need your custom.”

There it is from the horse’s mouth. Do you think these comments are just? Have your say below.