Let a retail worker explain what *not* to do when you’re shopping on Black Friday

Black Friday is equal parts exhilarating and horrifying — I know from personal experience as a retail worker. Yes, as a consumer, you’re getting great deals on holiday gifts — but as an employee (and a consumer too, actually), you know that people also behave pretty badly. Most stores become chaotic, and customers adopt an “every person for themselves” mentality.

It’s bad enough that shoppers are disrespectful to each other, but many people are absolutely terrible to retail workers on Black Friday (and most of the year, honestly).

At the end of the day, when shoppers are back at home in front of the fire with mugs of yummy spiced cider, those employees are still cleaning up the aftermath of Black Friday mayhem well into midnight. Working retail is never easy, but Black Friday is one of the toughest days of the year.

If you want to be a courteous Black Friday shopper (which you should absolutely want to be), I’m here to help you avoid these DON’Ts:

1Don’t be rude to other customers.

 This impacts the employees too. Retail establishments do their best to create a fun, festive holiday environment. We don’t want bad vibes. If you’re going to shop Black Friday, go into it remembering that everyone else is trying to do exactly what you’re doing: score great deals and stock up on gifts.

2Don’t talk on your phone while paying the cashier.

It’s rude. Just take two minutes to interact with the human in front of you who is being helpful, please.

3Don’t wander into fitting rooms without getting an associate’s help.

This is extremely frustrating year-round. We understand that you’re in a hurry to try things on and get out, but so is everyone else. To keep everything running smoothly, we need to stay organized. We can’t do that if you run into a fitting room as soon as someone leaves, before we have the chance to clear it out.

4Don’t groan about being in line.

Complaining about waiting in line or making comments like, “You should really have more people up here; I can’t believe this line is so long,” is uncool. This is the one day of the year when customers should be prepared to wait in line, and we are always doing the best we can. Many people request gift wrapping on Black Friday, and we don’t like to sacrifice quality by rushing to finish a transaction as quickly as possible. Also, the line will never be short on Black Friday — that’s just how it is. No matter how fast we move, there will always be 25 people waiting.

5Don’t wait in line for 15-20 minutes…just to still be undecided when you get to the register.

If you’re debating whether or not to give little candles or monogrammed notebooks as stocking stuffers, please make the choice before someone starts to ring you up.

6Don’t leave random items all over the store in the wrong places.

If you decide that you don’t want something, don’t just leave it wherever. Put it back in its home where it belongs! Things are where they are for a reason.

7Don’t forget that retail workers are people, too.

Please treat retail employees like the human beings they are. Don’t scream at them or threaten to give a bad Yelp review because they can’t find your size in those pants. And please, don’t follow them into the Employees Only area to ask a question. We need lunch breaks.

8Don’t be patronizing.

Just because someone works retail, it doesn’t mean they are inferior to you. Despite what you may think, it’s not an easy job. We can tell when customers have no empathy and have clearly never worked in customer service in their lives — especially when a customer refuses to talk to a manager with an accent because they “want to talk to someone who speaks English.”

9Don’t try to return things without a receipt.

 Of course, it depends on the establishment, but if the store’s policy says no returns without proof of purchase, don’t get mean when an employee can’t take your returned item. There are very few rules, and you are not an exception to any of them.

10Don’t open packages that are sealed shut.

 If you want to see a lipstick color but there’s no tester, ask an employee. Don’t open it up, touch it, then put it back. It’s pretty much impossible to sell things that have obviously been opened, and it costs the store money. Plus, it can be unsanitary and just kinda gross. Would you want to buy something that was opened and used?

11Don’t treat the store like a garbage can.

If you finish your venti Starbucks latte while shopping and can’t find a garbage can, politely ask an associate if they can throw it away for you. Don’t just leave it on the closest shelf.

12Don’t ask employees when things will go on sale.

Black Friday sales are different at every store, but if for some reason an item you’re purchasing isn’t on sale, please don’t ask us when the price will go down. Even if we know (where I work, management doesn’t tell us about sales until the night before), we’re almost always not allowed to tell you. Letting a customer know when an item will cost less is kind of like insider trading, just with less severe consequences. But still against the rules.

The holidays are a stressful time of year for everyone, and retail workers are simply doing their best to provide good customer service in a hectic environment. Please be patient, and don’t forget we’re humans, too! And please stay safe on Black Friday.

Filed Under