An image of the Manchester Arndale sign.

Why Black Friday will be the worst day in every retail worker’s life


For most of us poor, university students we are doomed to the retail life as the only means of making some extra money for our love of getting drunk (I’m just saying what everyone else seems to think of us.) It’s either retail or working in a bar, restaurant or any other sector that has unsociable hours we can fit around our days of lectures and Harvard referencing.

With working in retail comes the dreaded Christmas period (it honestly does take away the magic of Christmas). Anyone who works in a shop will feel my pain. But before the busiest time of year for shops, what comes first is what I like to think of as a bootcamp that prepares you for the Christmas madness. Black Friday.

After nearly two years of working in retail in different shops, speaking to friends and family, I’ve come up with a list of why Black Friday is the worst day in every retail worker’s life.

1) Before you even start your shift the craziness has already overcome the whole city. So you’re on a 12-6pm shift? Yeah, I’ll just roll out of bed at 10.30am. Oh no, forget about your lie-in, you’ll need to get to the bus stop at least two hours before your shift to take into account the ridiculous amount of traffic the sales have caused.

2) If you’re claustrophobic you will probably need to book the day off work. The shopping centre will be absolutely jam-packed. Imagine a whole colony, of penguins waddling towards you. Just smile and wave boys.

3) The possibility of getting a workplace claim is high. There’s always the chance of getting your ankles clipped by a mother with a pram, eager to get all her Christmas presents out of the way.

4) At some point in the day you’re probably going to say you’re just nipping to the loo. Just so you can rest your feet for a minute and reconsider your whole life.

5) The pressure on the till is sky high, the queue is building, and the customers are growing impatient. Then you hear the dreaded noise. The shame is real when you leave a tag on something, you swear the person covering security at the front of the shop gets a kick out of bringing you the item back to de-tag.

6) If you’re on the fitting rooms you’re pretty much taking on the role of a doorman at a nightclub for the day. If a customer goes to enter a cubicle without a number tag you treat them as if they’ve just sashayed past you without showing you their ID. A  number for the amount you’re trying on is pretty much equivalent to guest list.

7) When a customer leaves the fitting rooms and dumps you with a pile of clothes that haven’t been put back on the hangers, you feel yourself turning into the Incredible Hulk there and then. Really? You take six items in and not one of them is right? I don’t even think Trinny and Susannah would be able to help you.

8) A customer approaches you with a sale item asking you to check the price for them. It’s been hung on a wrong hanger, so has the wrong sale ticket price on it. Prepare yourself for a lecture in false advertising and consumer rights. Meanwhile, you’re dreaming about what you’re having for tea when you get home.

9) Your fellow workmates take on the roles of therapists and motivational speakers on Black Friday.

10) When the shops shutters come down at the end of the day I think everyone secretly wells up. We’ve survived another year.