Gig Economy: Working in Retail
As the American economy continues to slip into the crapper, more of us are taking multiple part-time jobs (gigs) to fill in the holes in our finances. Last week, I wrote about my UPS pre-loader early morning job, today – retail!
See the rest of the ‘Gig Economy’ series:
- Part One: So you want to work as a UPS pre-loader
- Part Two: So you want to work in retail
- Part Three: So you want to work in food service (coming soon)
Working multiple, maybe temporary, part-time jobs to attempt to equate to full-time pay is what business publications are referring to as the “gig economy.” Americans, especially younger ones, are taking multiple part-time jobs instead of a single 40+ hour per week position. I have decided to live my life this way for the foreseeable future and am sharing my insights into the various jobs I have or am now working.
This week, it’s retail. I won’t name the medium-sized store/chain that I work for (no, it’s not Wal-Mart) to protect them, me and … well .. me.
What are the hours for a job in retail?
Retail is shift work. You might open the store, you might close or work mid-shift.
What’s worse is that you might get to work two shifts in tandem and the worst of which is ‘clopening’. ‘Clopening’ is where the powers-that-be schedule you to close one night and open the next morning. That’s hard enough normally, but during the holiday season, this is referred to as sleep deprivation.
The real trouble with retail hours is that you are needed at work precisely when all of your friends and family are running around on free time. Customers visit retail locations when they are not at work, which means retail needs you to work when everyone else is done working.
Customers are fun .. and not:
The majority of customers keep the day moving. Helping them find the correct product and accessories is what makes my day go faster. Without customers, it would be hours of staring at the clock and listening to my supervisor rant on about some statistic that someone must have yelled at her about.
I like the products we sell and the store I work in. Mostly, that means I like our customers, but not always.
Some customers are not fun. The visitor, customer, guest .. whatever .. is NOT always right. We are required to treat them as if they are right and many expect it. While we smile, nod and do everything within our power to remedy their concerns, sometimes .. they are just wrong.
Some customers get a bit weird. Because I am friendly and know a lot about the products they like, they seem to assume I am their life mate. I am young, take care of myself and because it is my job – learn the products. Ms., I didn’t learn the ins and outs of your favorite item because I am secretly hoping you’ll elope with me. They actually pay me for this.
There is real flexibility in retail
Just as the hours of retail stores can get in the way, those same odd hours can make life easier.
When I have availability to visit the grocery store, mall, movies, etc .. no one else does. No lines, no hassle, matinee pricing and early bird discounts make a difference.
Is there a career in retail?
From working the floor, there are usually supervisor, assistant manager ($45k national avg) and management positions ($50k national average) to look forward to as your higher-ups move up or move on. I am not sure what the executives above those manager make, but $50k is worth working towards.
Is retail work hard?
The actual job is easy. Checkout, returns, re-stock, displays .. that’s routine stuff. Dealing with people is as much positive as it is negative and the hours are a social challenge (see: the whole article above here.)