Musings from spending 53 days on the Retail Floor

Musings from spending 53 days on the Retail Floor

1. (Most) shoppers are nice

Shoppers are in general ok and approachable. Most exhibit open body language while browsing. Some shut you down with a “I’m just browsing” before you even say anything or offer a smile. Some are curious about you and what you do. Some need a friendly face and chat. Some are in need of serious mood elevating which brings to mind the phrase “testing your patience”. Overall, it’s a good test of character and ego to meet different characters day in and day out.

2. Retail hours are no joke

10 to 11 hour days (sometimes 12 hours for special events) mean that brands would have to hire 2 sales promoters to work different shifts to break up a day’s work. In times of labour shortage and / or on low traffic days, some brands would just engage 1 sales promoter to man the counter. That means the same music playlist on loop combined with constant customer greetings, taking care of the floor merchandise in case of theft and running back and forth to the store room to get that “new piece” for a customer.

3. Standing for long hours burns serious calories

Sales promoters aren’t allowed to sit while working. This means standing for a minimum of 7 hours daily. Initially, my legs were aching but my nightly ritual of putting my legs against the wall and perhaps practice made it more bearable.
All the standing made me hungrier than usual. I would eat a filling breakfast before heading to work and then carb load at break time, followed by more carbs at 11pm. It was a strange time as I contemplated if my waistband was getting looser due to too many washes, when in fact, I had lost weight despite massive eating. I’m happy to report that my metabolism has come back down to match my normalised activity level.

4. Rules for adults can be annoyingly nostalgic (and funny)

All department stores have a code of conduct and system by which they run like a well oiled machine. As independent sales promoters hired by the brands themselves, just simply being in the store means adhering to their rules. One of which is to embrace the feminine features of what is expected from a Ladies Apparel promoter - lipstick so that you don’t appear pale and some eye make up if you decide to wear a mask. It felt oddly nostalgic of being back in school only with reverse instructions of face painting.
Beyond the face, standing stance is also important. I was told to narrow my standing stance as it was unsightly. I took their feedback seriously and sheepishly relinquished my standing squat to my break time stretch.

5. Sales Promoters wear body armour

It would be unrealistic to assume people go shopping in a good mood. However it is quite surprising to me how bad natured some customers can be. Having witnessed some interactions between customers and Sales staff and / or promoters, I recommend these people remove shopping as a form of therapy. Passive aggression seems to be the norm now with tactless snapping, intentional repetitive loud requests, uncalled for unsolicited, unsubstantiated
criticism of the product and its designer (disguised as honest feedback), rough handling and yanking of clothes from racks. Going by the mantra that they are always right, they are emboldened to behave, in my opinion, badly. I take my hat off to these hardy, resilient sales promoters who have worked in this line for over 10 years, some as long as 30 years. When asked, they say that they are used to it and since they can’t rebut or respond to the customer, they just take it in their stride.

6. Spouses and Partners (especially the more senior ones) have lots of patience and leg strength

Partners (boyfriends and husbands) who willingly and happily accompany their partner clothes shopping deserve a prize for their patience. Those with partners who have strong intent to shop, simply hang around patiently outside the fitting room entrances to provide their opinion. Some are able to hang around for a relatively long time without a place to sit and just their trusty phone to keep them entertained.

7. Helping begets Helping

In the Ladies Apparel department, with different brands stationed side by side, it can get competitive especially on low traffic days. It was refreshing to have another brand refer a customer to you because the Sales Promoter prioritises the customer’s requests over self-promotion. When you receive kindness, it makes one more inclined to pay it forward. So it’s true when they say that what the world needs now is more loving kindness.

8. A Few Good Women

Conventional physical retail traffic has slowed considerably.
However when someone has the intention to shop and prefers to shop in person, the combination of a suitable product and good service can go a long way. We are so thankful to have met some lovely ladies whom we have enjoyed connecting with and styling!

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