Something New Sundays: An Insider’s Guide to Retail Shopping


Working in retail has opened my eyes to the behavior of the American shopper and alerted me to how I can be a better customer when I indulge in some retail therapy. Being on the “inside” of the retail world, I want to share some tips of how you can make your next trip to your favorite clothing store a much more productive and pleasant experience. This might sound like a laundry list of complaints about customers, but in general, I love my customers. I love helping you find that perfect outfit and getting a good deal.Β  These are just tips to make both of our experiences more pleasant and productive on the sales floor, in the fitting room and at the register.

On the Sales Floor:

  • When you are greeted or approached by a salesperson asking if you need any help (or asking any question) don’t blow them off or wave them away like they’re a fly. It makes us feel disprespected and less than human. Then when you do ask for help, we have a harder time being 100% helpful with you because we feel hurt.
  • If you are having a hard time finding a size/color/that perfect shirt for Friday night or just navigating the store, ask us for help. Unless we’re trainees, we know our stores inside and out or at least can get you an associate who does. We even know how to navigate the clearance section.
  • If you pick up an item and later change your mind, please put it back where you got it instead of on the nearest convenient table. This is more important than trying to refold the shirt you just picked up to look at. It helps us help other customers who might want that item later in the day, but we can’t find that size because it was moved.
  • Read sale signs carefully, and if you’re confused, ask. Those corporate marketing directors make these signs confusing so you’ll spend more. We can decipher them for you, and no, we can’t do anything about how confusing they are.

In the Fitting Room

  • If there is an attendant in the fitting room, we are there for you. We can get you different sizes and different colors, just ask us. We’re not your slave; we’re getting paid for it so don’t feel bad about making us run around, but also ask nice because again, we’re not your slave. The point is, we can get that item and size or something similar a lot faster than you can because we know our store.
  • Whether you give us a pile of unfolded, unhung clothes or an attempted folded shirt, we don’t really care. It’s a nice gesture to try and fold and hang the clothes you don’t want before you give them to us, but we’ll probably have to redo it anyway. It just makes us feel like you care.
  • Unless there is no fitting room attendant and there is a hanging bar, don’t hang the clothes yourself. If there’s an attendant, they might have a system of organization on that rack. If there’s no attendant then go right ahead.
  • If there is an attendant in the dressing room, don’t just leave your unwanted clothes in the fitting room. It’s rude, messy, and it leads us to believe you may be stealing.

At the Register

  • Don’t be pouty now that we’re asking for you money. The person behind the register didn’t force you to shop.
  • If there is a price disagreement between you and the computer, be polite about it. If you’re nice, the cashier and managers will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and give it to you at that price. If you’re mean, we’re going to be very thorough in our price check, and you don’t want the embarrassment of being wrong in front of that huge line you just held up for your price check.
  • If our policy is to give you the hangers, but you don’t want them, be a doll and take them off yourself. It really makes check out more efficient if we have your help.

All of this boils down to: be nice and friendly, and we will do anything in the world for you. We will scour the store and brave the clearance jungle for a perfect navy blue shirt to match your new hat or will scale ladders to check upstock for that perfect size in the perfect denim wash you love so much because we love that you chose to shop with us. We want you there, and we want you to come back as long as you don’t give us a reason to change our minds.


5 Responses to “Something New Sundays: An Insider’s Guide to Retail Shopping”

  1. 1 Sky

    I love this. And I totally agree with all of your points. Thanks for writing on this, while I was working at Target in the clothing section I remember wishing that someone would just write a guide for shoppers! Well, you’ve done it! πŸ™‚

  2. Oh Lord. Reminds me of my six months as a cash handler at ON. The pressure of selling ONCs, the rush at holiday. The elf hat I had to wear. Glad I’m not in retail anymore!

    • I’m the worst at selling ONCs. I hate them, don’t believe in them. It’s one of the worst parts.

      • I didn’t believe in them either… but was excellent at selling them πŸ™‚ Because I wasn’t pushy, I think.

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