Black Friday Through The Eyes Of An Employee
Reported by Emma Bach
Black Friday is quite the holiday phenomenon. Highly anticipated by bargainers and shopaholics alike, this post-Thanksgiving event provides the perfect opportunity to snag typically-expensive products and purchase Christmas gifts on a budget. While Black Friday may be considered a delightful, deal-driven outing to shoppers, it’s a very different experience for store employees.
Kiki Simokovic, a first-year student, works at The Gap at Washington Square Mall. Working in retail is already an endeavor in itself, especially when it comes to encountering the variety of customers that pass through the store.
“Retail is interesting,” Simokovic said. “Sometimes there are really nice people. Then there’s people who aren’t having a great time in life, so they spill their guts to you while they’re shopping, [and] there are people who come in and don’t know their jean size. And then there are the crazy people who are screaming and always have an issue with you.”
With Black Friday beginning earlier each year, employees have to endure the stress that comes with the previously one-day, now multiple day, event. Simokovic worked on Black Friday and the days that followed, which she termed “Black Friday weekend.”
“Black Friday is a weekend now,” Simokovic said. “Technically it’s more than a weekend because we started our Black Friday sales that Wednesday. It was insanely busy. It came in waves.”
Simokovic and her coworkers had to deal with a painfully long list of obstacles throughout Black Friday. Their tasks included maintaining a clean counter space, conducting dragged-out returns amongst the purchases, constantly cleaning out fitting rooms that were full of discarded clothing, and pushing through the hours with a broken register (one that caused many customers to panic with its tendency to decline cards).
“Go-backs,” which are clothes that customers decide last-minute they don’t want to purchase, also proved to be another challenge: there were so many go-backs that the employees had to stash them in the hallway of the store, working furiously to fold and put them back on the shelves.
If concerning herself with all the other tasks at hand wasn’t a challenge enough, Simokovic also had to cope with the lack of customer etiquette commonly associated with Black Friday.
“People just lose all their shopping skills. During the regular parts of the year, it’s really never that bad,” said Simokovic. “But people are just so purposely brutal on Black Friday because they just want to find the best deal or get the best thing, and they don’t want anyone else to get it.”
Simokovic revealed that irritation and bickering often took over all of the employees due to their extreme exhaustion and long hours. Black Friday is an event of chaos, one that creates high stress levels for those who serve the frantic, demanding customers.
Next time you go Black Friday shopping, take it easy on the employees. It’s likely they’re tired beyond belief and could use a little courtesy.