Wednesday, December 1, 2010

May Your Season be Bright...And Sensible

Every year around this time I am reminded on how commercial the Christmas Holidays have become.  Having spent over 35 years in the retail trade, you would think I became accustomed to all the hustle and bustle, and the screaming and crying, but you would be very, very, wrong.  Ever since I was an undertall individual,  Christmas was a time for family and friends, visiting and eating.
Unfortunately, as the years have gone by, things have gotten more and more commercial, with the accent on how much I should spend on a particular person, rather than giving from the heart.  Homemade gifts used to be really awesome to give and receive because they required time and thought to be placed behind them.  However; that was then…..
Now people in the retail field are looking at the season with Scrooge demeanor; as they see shortages in the popular products, time off/ days off cancelled because the retail machine for some reason won’t function right without that particular associate, and really, really bad hours as stores seem to feel longer days mean more money, which in turn should mean more profits.  That is the key word: PROFIT!!
Anyone in the business who says they are not in it for money or personal gain would be lying; Yet every year they trudge on, singing the company mantra, but secretly counting the days until the madness is over for another year.  At this time it seems most retail personel work on automatic, with the settings being Eat, Sleep, Work; yet occasionally the settings for eat and sleep malfunction at the worst of times; as the days get closer and closer to C-day; and management expects more and more coming from less and less.  This is the worst time for stress to develop, as many people re-evaluate their career choice, knowing full well that when January 3 comes around; they did survive and will stick it out for another year; unless some fantastic opportunity should fall from the heavens and land right at their feet.
I think  most consumers forget a couple of key points:
1.  Retail Employees are Human too; and should be treated as such
2. The insane hours are dictated by the consumer and not the shopkeeper; If people kept their shopping to a sensible time, then the stores would be able to run at normal hours, and it would make everyone just that much happier.
3. Sunday shopping does nothing for the overall profitability of a store.  Seriously, am I to believe that stores make more money going 7 days a week then what they made in the past in 6? I’m not sure about anyone else but my paycheque never increased because of and extra day of being open, my shifts were just moved around to accomadate the new demands.
4.  Anyone who says that the retail employee has the right to look elsewhere is absolutely correct; provided they remember that not everyone is cut out to be a doctor or a lawyer.  I know many people who worked in retail to get through school, that had not really chosen it as a  career path, and were all the better at finding something better at the first improved opportunity to present itself.
5.  BOXING DAY!!! Is there any real reason why stores have to open at all on December 26th?  I always enjoyed the extra day of rest, especially after working the previous 23 days straight (yes it is legal if you are paid weekly)  The prices are only better on seasonal goodies left over; and crap that some person got real cheap to move real fast.  There really are no major bargains to be had.
The old family days of Christmas are gone, and all that is left is the memories of gathering the clan over a well cooked turkey/tofurkey as the world spins on faster and faster, and personal time becomes less and less (like it was in the older days).
I am glad to have moved on; and even more glad to have spent that time in the trenches, as it makes me appreciate how much harder the world of retail truly has become.
For all concerned, that gives you Something to Think About…
(thanks for the rant time….this has been a long time in the making- djs-:)

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