Black Friday Challenges Retail Workers

April Reiss, News Editor

Black Friday is our favorite time to get good deals and jump start the Christmas present shopping. But for a retail worker, it might be one of those most stressful times of the year. I am working in retail and while it is a great job with many benefits, Black Friday is the worst time of the year.

The first step to Black Friday preparation is a 2 hour all staff meeting. During this meeting, safety, crowd control, conflict resolution, and de-escalation were all discussed to make Black Friday run as smoothly as possible. Mall hours are also extended for Black Friday, opening at  9 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m. instead of the typical 11 a.m. open to 7pm close, which makes for longer shifts for us retail workers. 

The next step is patiently awaiting your schedule. Awaiting the schedule for Black Friday is like awaiting Christmas but in the worst possible way. The stress levels of not knowing what shift you work on Black Friday is unreal. The closing shift is easily the worst shift. It is only the worst shift because you have to clean up after the Black Friday chaos. The mid day shift is also pretty bad because it is the busiest, so the opening shift is preferable because you get a minute of peace before the chaos picks up. No shift is ideal but you have to pick the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, I was given the closing shift. 

The third step is prep week. Throughout the week before Black Friday, the days increasingly get busier. We have to make sure everything is in line and accessible for immediate Black Friday success. This entails organizing the back stockroom in a way that is easy and quick to grab products and making sure our product out on the floor is stocked to the maximum.

The last step is Black Friday. Parking might be the hardest part. As an employee who got to the mall at 4pm, all of the spots are taken, so you have to park the farthest away. My store was relatively unbusy when I got there, because I was working later in the day, but being at the register for hours with a short break is pretty tiring within itself. The most annoying thing about Black Friday as an associate is by far the complaints. As I am not a manager nor a corporate employee, I cannot control the deals or the little things the public has to complain about. However, I do receive an earful. In my store, our fitting rooms were closed. This caused quite the havoc in customers. This was by far the biggest thing I received complaints about, from passive aggressive behavior to outright comments on the ‘ridiculousness’. Otherwise, a lot of other things customers have to say is they have a problem with the sales. “Why isn’t this on sale?” or “I thought this item was part of the sale”. Those comments are also rather irritating because there are multiple signs that state clearly what the sales are. Lastly, the dreaded cleaning process. Even though my store closed at 9 p.m., we did not get to leave until 10:45 p.m. because of cleaning tasks alone. We are responsible as the closing staff to make sure everything is presentable for the opening staff. This seemed like a never ending process, but somehow it finally ceased. 

As someone who worked Black Friday I can now give some advice for the general public. Number 1, stores are typically opened later than usual on Black Friday, so go later because it is less busy. Number 2, don’t go overboard, because our Cyber Monday sales were better than our Black Friday sales. And finally, Number 3, give the associates some grace… because we usually have little control over situations.