It’s the most stressful time of the year (for retail workers)


Bryan Vomacka

A large number of shoppers are inside of a store
The holiday season is the most difficult time of the year for retail workers. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

Christmas, the holidays, winter … this time of the year goes by many names, each evoking a sense of comfort and warmth, spending time with loved ones and staying comfortable and warm inside.

For retail workers, this time of the year is simply known as fourth quarter. As someone who has worked at a large retail store for over four years, this corporate term evokes feelings of dread, stress and exhaustion – both mental and physical.

Throughout the last few years, my thoughts on holiday shopping have changed quite a bit. I used to go out at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and then out again on Black Friday morning to continue the quest for the best deals. This year, I skipped both but did some online shopping.

As difficult as this time of year can be, I still recognize that we all have jobs to do and fulfill a valuable role in the gift-giving process. On Thanksgiving day alone, online sales totaled $4.2 billion. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shopping throughout November and December is predicted to increase by as much as 4.2% from 2018 to 2019. That’s a potential increase of $730.7 billion.

Even without the statistics, all one had to do was drive around on Thursday night to see how busy things were. Parking lots at Wal-Mart were packed full. Several tents were set up at Nebraska Furniture Mart waiting for the doors to open in the morning.

I can’t fault people for wanting to go out and get a good deal on holiday gifts. But, I do think that holiday consumerism needs to be examined and re-worked. Is it too much to ask that stores close for the entire day on Thanksgiving? Why do the big deals need to be relegated to just a few days? It seems to me that the entire months of November and December could be used to provide good deals to holiday shoppers.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that retail workers are stressed this time of year. We’re overwhelmed, but we’re doing our best to provide customers with the best service we can.