Once you’re prepped for the holiday season, the next thing is to prepare for the most dreaded day in retail employee history; Black Friday.
Black Friday is the first huge shopping day of the holiday season. While it’s always my hope that everyone gets their holiday shopping done WAY before then, there will always be those who do not.
First and foremost, GET YOUR SHOPPING DONE EARLY. Thanksgiving and Black Friday are NOT early. These are shopping holidays. Because of the creation of Black Friday, every major store opens early. Not just early in the morning, but early as in a day before. Many stores have taken to opening on Thanksgiving to give shoppers extra time to shop.
As a favor to all retail employees, do not apologize to us when you come in on Thanksgiving night. We are there because you are. If you truly feel bad, do not go out. I can’t count on my fingers and toes the amount of customers who apologize for my needing to work but show up and buy a million moderately priced things anyway.
If, despite my warnings, you do go out on Black Friday, there are a few tips and tricks you want to commit to memory.
Leave early. Don’t leave early to get in a line, but leave early to get a parking spot. Parking and traffic are the issues here. Even employees have to park you know. Be nice to the employees walking in the parking lot or trying to park. You want to be there. In most cases, we do not. If there is one spot left, and you KNOW that the other person gunning for it works there, let them have it. BUT, also let that employee see your face. You were nice to them and believe me, in most instances we are grateful for it and will remember.
If the item you are looking for is not a door buster, don’t bother waiting in the line. If you’re going in for a coffee maker and just to save a few bucks, do not freeze to death for it! Many of the people waiting in line are looking for our limited stock items, like door busters or other ticketed item goods. Many stores let people in in increments anyway. Waiting out there before the store opens for no limited stock item is a poor idea. Instead, wait for some increments of people to move in and then slide into line. It could save you from frostbite.
When you get into the store, look for signs and markers. Many employees are scrambling to get to all the customers. If you know the store and have been there before, the products don’t really move a lot. Go to where it was or would logically be. If an employee is nearby, they are more than willing to get your product and get you in line. However, if you can get to it yourself, please do so! There are often a lot of products that are locked up or ticketed that we employees have to keep a sharp eye on, so the more you can do on your own, the better.
Be patient. Once you get your item and get in line, please be nice to the cashiers. They have a speech they have to give every time to every single one of the millions of customers that bust through our doors. They want you out just as badly as you want to leave. Trust me. Being testy won’t make them go faster or listen to any of your wishes.
DO NOT BRING YOUR SMALL CHILDREN. I have personally seen babies waiting out in line in the cold. We can’t let you in early and you can’t jump the line because you have a small child. Also small children are alarmingly easy to lose in busy corporate stores. We are not babysitters. I really don’t want to have to issue a special code when I find your child and you’re nowhere to be seen. In my time in retail, I have seen children left at stores because their parents or siblings forgot them or there wasn’t enough space in the car. DO NOT BE THAT PERSON!
As you leave on Black Friday (or Thanksgiving) remember to watch for pedestrians in the parking lot. It gets dark early. It stays dark longer.
My best advice is to not go out. Get it all done ahead of time. You can avoid every nightmare I write about. However, if you must go out, follow these tips. You might just save a retail employee’s Thanksgiving.