Now that Black Friday has essentially turned into Black Friday week, it’s pretty hectic out there for retail workers. While there’s a lot of talk about the great bargains and products you can grab on Black Friday, let’s spare a thought for the retail staff who have to sell them.
A retail worker’s survival guide
Black Friday, like Boxing Day, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Though originating in the U.S., it’s really taken off around the globe. Black Friday sales tend to span from the Friday, right through the weekend to the following Monday, crowned Cyber Monday for online sales. But as we’re seeing this year, it’s starting even earlier.
Black Friday is a great way for shoppers to pick up Christmas gifts early. But that often results in overwhelming crowds and a huge influx of online orders. Which will likely skyrocket this year thanks to social distancing.
The biggest sales tend to happen on Black Friday itself, which is November 27 this year. Preparing yourself to work on Black Friday is like preparing to run a marathon or sit an exam. You must be kind to your body and turn up focused.
Speaking from experience, working Black Friday can become nothing short of torture. So, for all my retail brethren working overtime in the next week, here are some tips to help you survive the sales.
Eat a decent breakfast
Black Friday often starts early and runs late. If you're one of those people who just grabs any snack on their way to work or eats five minutes before starting a shift, maybe consider choosing something filling and nutritious. And then give yourself time to eat it. You'll need all your energy to get through the day.
Prepare your meals in advance
Speaking of which, the manic nature of Black Friday sometimes results in skipping a meal or eating in whatever spare moment you can grab from the crushing grip of frustrated customers. When that moment arrives, take it and don't waste it waiting in line to order food. Prepare your meal and bring it to work if you can so you don't have to stress on your lunch break.
Wear comfortable clothes
Whether your workplace has a uniform or not make sure that whatever you wear for Black Friday is breathable and comfortable. It's particularly important to wear comfy shoes if you're on your feet all day. Now is probably not the best time to break in that new pair of sneakers.
Get a good night's sleep
Nothing is worse than showing up to work tired. It'll make you more irritable and less patient with customers - and we all know how that works out. Make sure you get a decent sleep the night before. Even go to bed early if you can. If you're working through the entire Black Friday hell week then try and stick to a reasonable sleep schedule. You'll thank me later.
At the best of times, it's easy to forget to drink your water. But on Black Friday you can go the entire day and then suddenly realise you haven't had a sip. Then, all of a sudden — headache. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and remind each other to hydrate.
Communicate with your team
We're all in this together, team. Make sure you communicate with your co-workers as efficiently as possible. Ask your managers how they want to run things ahead of time so that you have a clear plan of action. There are so many things going on at once on Black Friday that having a plan of attack is crucial.
Plan in advance
On that note, make sure you've been briefed on what's happening in your store for Black Friday. Try and familiarise yourself with the sales that are happening and how they work. Less time calling someone for help means less time a customer will stand there losing patience.
Dividing and conquering within your group is a great tactic. Have someone dealing with online orders while someone else is packing the items. Have a clear method of organising any pre-paid purchases and know where all your back-up stock is.
Also, this year is bound to be different with the implementation of social distancing practices. Make sure you know what your store is doing to stay COVID safe and that you look out for your own health as well.
Don't take anything personally
You develop a thick skin working in retail. But just remember, it's really not the end of the world if a customer is annoyed at you for missing out on a sale. If you've done all you can to help them, then you've done enough. And don't be afraid to escalate issues to your manager if you're unsure or uncomfortable about something. They are trained to deal with things that are often beyond your pay grade.
This is all I can do to prepare you, my retail allies. Best of luck.