Monday, 8 December 2014

A few thoughts on Holiday shopping ...


The 8th of December is a holiday in Austria. A few years ago, shops started to open regardless, and nowadays it should be renamed to "day of unnecessary crazy consumerism" or something similar. Now I realise that this is just how the world works, that those who already make enough profit want to make even more, and that most people probably love the idea of having an extra day to do their holiday shopping. 

Since I know how crazy things get in the big shopping streets on a day like December 8th because I used to work as a (part-time) cashier in the past five years, I have decided for myself that for as long as I can afford it (aka have enough spare time to do my holiday shopping on any other day), I won't be going shopping on December 8th - partly to avoid the stressful environment, but also as a matter of principle. 

That being said, I don't blame anybody who decides to jump right into the holiday shopping craze because a lot of people do not have the luxury of having as much spare time as a student does and need to get stuff done. The 24th is only two and a half weeks away, and most people probably only tend to think about Christmas as soon as they look at their calendar and realise it says "December 1st" one day. So with those days of holiday shopping upon us, here's a few thoughts ...

Think ahead. Know what you want to get for the people you hold dear beforehand, it helps not getting side-tracked. Also, if you can, get your shopping done in the mornings before the crazy holiday shoppers are awake and ready to wreak havoc in the streets.

Be prepared. The closer we get to Christmas, the more stressful holiday shopping feels to everyone, which typically shows in terms of rudeness displayed from the people around us. If you're doing your holiday shopping on the 22nd of December, just be mentally prepared that there's going to be a lot of people and long queues everywhere. There's always going to be people who start their holiday shopping too late, thus bordering a mental breakdown because they think they can't finish it in time and may have sudden outbursts of anger directed at the wrong people.

Don't be that person. If you find yourself shopping on one of the busiest days in the year (usually days like Dec 8th in Austria or any given Saturday before Christmas), here's some things to avoid saying to the poor souls working in retail ...

"This queue is so long, I've been waiting for 20 minutes now and I only wanted to get xyz!" - The last person whose fault it is that a line is particularly long is the cashier who is stuck behind the register all day. Trust me, that person sure wishes to be somewhere else as well.
"Can I just pay this thing real quick, I even have the exact change and everything!" - I cannot tell you how often people have asked me if they could jump the queue just because they have the exact amount of money to by whatever book they fancied. No, good sir, I'm afraid you'll still have to stand in line just like everyone else.
"OMG, it's so busy in here, why aren't there more registers open so people can check out faster?" - As far as I know, most stores try to do exactly that anyways (my store normally doubled registers from 6 to at least 12 to 15 on the busiest days); at some point, they're at capacity and there's nothing more they can do.

This post isn't supposed to be a super-long rant about Christmas shopping, because I'm as guilty as the next person - we all want to buy gifts for our loved ones and we all get stressed about it at one point or another. I just want to point out that the people working in retail full-time are absolute troopers and deserve all the respect they can get for putting up with the crap they're faced with every day of December; I didn't even work full-time these past five years, but I still had my fair share of idiots and uncomfortable situations to deal with - I can only imagine how hard it is to put up with that 6 days a week.

I know this was very different from my usual posts, but I still wanted to get this out there in some way because the reason I've been such a grinch in the past few years was because of my experience of working in one of the busiest (and biggest) stores in the busiest shopping street of Vienna and I know how crazy it gets sometimes.

I hope you all have a relatively stress-free December and are able to escape the shopping craze building up towards the holidays (online-shopping helps a lot!) and that you're able to get everything you need in time! :)

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