With Covid-19 on the rise in the UK, and an increasingly large number of people panic buying, it is a tough time to be working in the retail industry.
For those of us that do (I work in a supermarket on the Llŷn Peninsula) the workload has increased considerably, and it has become a daily battle to keep up with demand.
Add to this the continuous stream of queries for all of the panic buyers favourites; hand sanitizer, liquid soap, although strangely there are still soap bars on the shelves, toilet roll, beans, tomatoes, bread, milk, UHT, nappies, and baby formula, and an increasing amount of cranky shoppers cussing, tutting, and giving dirty looks to the shop floor colleagues as if it is somehow our fault that these things are unavailable, and it all adds up to a particularly stressful workday.
To be fair there are some who sympathise with our plight, who stop and chat about the situation, which of course no-one can believe is happening, whilst piling goods into their trollies and adding to the problem!
All the while we have to be polite – although my words and face aren’t always saying the same thing – be happy to help, and treat all customers with respect, irrespective of whether or not it is reciprocated. Believe me when I say this is particularly difficult right now, and I freely admit to having dropped the odd expletive on the shop floor.
Whilst this is obviously an issue on a national scale it has been made worse here in the north-west of Wales by a sudden influx of people trying to escape the cities. As a seasonal store we prepare for this increase at Easter and during the summer months, but this year it is happening far sooner and of course people are buying far more than is usual.
And yet staff levels have not increased and therefore we are working our socks off to keep up. It really feels like we are running to stand still, we are exhausted, and morale is the lowest it has been in a long, long time.
Retail work is a thankless task at the best of times, which these clearly aren’t, people can be dismissive, aggressive, and downright rude, on a daily basis, so it would be nice if customers spared a thought for us workers.
After all, without us there would be nothing on the shelves to buy at all.
We work tirelessly to fulfill the needs of the customer, and, most importantly, we don’t do the ordering, decide to ration items, pick the time of delivery to suit you, and can’t materialize products out of thin air that we don’t have, so please stop blaming us for these things.
Barely a month has passed since a wave of ‘Be Kind’ posts filled the pages of social media following the tragic death of Caroline Flack, and yet here we are, watching people fighting over toilet roll, and giving no thought to those in real need, the elderly, and those in society that live hand to mouth and can’t afford to stockpile food, which includes a lot of us retail workers.
So please, when you are shopping be kind to those of us that are battling to ensure you have what you reasonably need, I can assure you that we will appreciate it, and it would go a long way to making our workday that little bit better.