In the midst of all the panic buying, spare a thought for us supermarket workers

Photo by Boris Dunand on Unsplash

Lisa Ware

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.

 

Need

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.

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Thomas Moseley
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Thomas Moseley

Good article. People can be very selfish and fail to consider the needs of others. I am 83 years old and cannot shop for myself; so I am very grateful for the help I get from kind helpful people and in particular the staff of our local supermarket.

Lisa Ware
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Lisa Ware

Thank you for your comment Thomas.

I am so glad that your local community is so helpful in meeting your needs. The local communities have been fantastic in pulling together to ensure people like yourself have additional support at this time.

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

Working in retail is mostly a pretty thankless task, and know, I worked in retail for many years. Whilst some shoppers regard shop workers as fellow humans, many seem to regard them as some kind of lower being. It used to be said that in the UK it was ‘service with a scowl’ and whilst this was sometimes true, it’s hard to find any shopworker who takes this approach these days, and I’m often somewhat nonplussed by shop staff who are genuinely pleasant and smiling given that all too often both the pay and the working conditions leave a lot… Read more »

Lisa Ware
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Lisa Ware

Hi Sibrydionmawr – Thank you for your comment. Re the limiting or products, strangely we have not had customers buying single items in bulk, however, it seems that many are simply buying a large amount of shopping, so limiting a product would not change this. We do have a policy of only allowing 2 sanitisers, but we have not had ANY sanitiser or liquid soap for a few days now. I also agree with your point about people ‘escaping’ to the countryside. This does not seem to be a sensible way to contain the virus and has added to the… Read more »

Sera Jones
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Sera Jones

In our store it isnt that people are buying a particularly large amount, its that weve gone from having say 100 people buying a loaf each to 500 people buying one or two loaves. Rationing would make absolutely no difference in our store as we would still be in exactly the same position

Jig
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Jig

Diolch Lisa. Neges bwysig i ymddwyn yn war ar adeg anodd i bawb

Lisa Ware
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Lisa Ware

Thanks for your comment Jig. Agreed, manners cost nothing and go a long way to making people working day better.

Michael McGrane
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Michael McGrane

Retail and public service workers in general deserve a huge vote of thanks from their customers. The local shops and supermarkets in and around Pontypridd have staff who are unfailingly helpful, after the floods and now this unneeded stress. Please be kind, a smile and thank you costs nothing but can mean a lot!

Lisa Ware
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Lisa Ware

Thanks for your comment Michael. It is nice to read that people appreciate what we do. We are all in this together, and if we get to the same point as Italy, we retail workers will be one of the few businesses that will remain working, which also makes us in a high risk environment.

Mawkernewek
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I visited my local branch of the Co-op today and I have never seen it as well stocked, so remember than pictures like the above may be atypical.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Lucky you. We appear to have a fair loading of hoarders in our area. Even healthy foods which are often slow moving are now flying off the shelves. Maybe those buying them will get an improved diet out of this crisis !

Lisa Ware
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Lisa Ware

Some of our smaller independent stores are pretty well-stocked at present. Yesterday as a larger chain we ran out of loo roll, soap, bread, milk, beans, tomatoes, nappies, and pasta. A lot of people are now buying flour to make their own bread, which I think is a great idea. I think people just need to start thinking beyond their normal habits, there is plenty of food available.

Bob
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Bob

Yeah thanks to all the Carmarthenshire people for clearing the shops of children meds and leave others go with out my son has broken out in chicken poxz and all the selfish people around have empty the shop for everything so I have to watch my boy suffer and he is only 2 and a half years old

Lisa Ware
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Lisa Ware

Oh that’s terrible. People have been snapping up paracetamol like it is going out of fashion, regardless of whether they need it or not, and it leaves people like you Bob having to deal with what is obviously a horrendous situation. Have you tried ringing your local pharmacy to see if they can get you something?

j humphrys
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j humphrys

What did your doctor do? Strange situation. Deplorable, in fact