5 Tips for Holiday Shopping – From an Ex-Retail Worker

I spent two and half years working in retail and I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding, challenging, frustrating, fun, and angering jobs I’ve ever had. But I learned so many amazing tips that I use every single time I shop. I decided to share some holiday shopping tips that I picked up while working retail in the hopes that it will help you during your holiday shopping.

It can be so overwhelming shopping during the holidays :: the crowds, the impatient people, the seemingly never ending lines. There are a few easy things you can do before you head out and at the store to ensure you get the best holiday shopping experience!

Make A List

If your going to a store where an associate might be available to help you one on one, make a list of the people you are shopping for and any items you had in mind for them. Even if you don’t know what you are planning on getting them, jot down their names so you don’t forget anybody when you get there.

Other important things to note are their favorite colors, if you notice what type of jewelry or accessories they favor, and maybe screenshot a few pics of them from their social media. These will help the associate get a feel for the person your shopping for and they’ll be better equipped to pick out options. If it’s a store you frequently shop at, point out other items they’ve liked in the past.

Once at the store, find an associate that you click with. Don’t be afraid to chat a few up or just keep an eye out for one that has a style you like. You might not want to go for the pushiest associate if you are easily convinced to buy things you aren’t sure about, but if you are totally unsure about what you need, a headstrong associate will be able to help you navigate the holiday rush better. 

Associates often have sales quotas they have to meet, and those are upped during the holiday seasons, so once you find somebody to help you, don’t be afraid to mention you have a list and need to shop in other departments. I promise they will be more than willing to help! If they aren’t, don’t be afraid to find a different associate.

Check The Tag

I know firsthand that not everybody shops the sale rack during the holidays, but honestly more people do that you think! And I mean, why not? You can find amazing products, at amazing prices, and grab more prezzies for your money! Such a win-win.

Not all stores do this, mind you, but a lot of stores will have the original price, along with the percent you are saving, on the sales tag. I worked at Dillard’s and our mark down tags would list the current percent off (30%, 50% etc), the original price, and the new price. 

Checking the tag will also make sure you aren’t blindsided at the register. During the holidays, it can be freaking crazy in the retail world and items get accidentally stuck on the wrong shelves or racks all the time and they aren’t always caught right away – if at all. You might grab something off the 50% rack that could be only 30% off or still full price. 

When in doubt, hop in line or grab a customer free associate to check the price. It might feel awkward, but I can promise it happened tons of times during their shift and both of you would prefer zero surprises at the register.

Tuesday or Wednesday

Mondays seem like a good idea, but stores are often understaffed and associates are usually rushed and busy recovering from the weekend and working on new markdowns. Weekends are always busy because more people are off work, so it’s harder to get a more personalized experience. Fridays are hit or miss on the busy front, but they are usually staffed well (especially during the holidays) so you ma feel overwhelmed by the amount of “How are you doing today?”s you get.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my absolute favorite picks for shopping, especially during the holiday season. These days are good because weekend recovery is usually done, as are several markdowns, and they aren’t as crowded. Some stores even start getting new stock on these days so you might be among the first to see that merchandise.

Be Nice

I’m sure you’ve seen numerous tweets regarding this, but during the holidays working are sometimes working 11-12 hour days up to 6 days a week and these shifts are absolutely physically and mentally exhausting. Being nice to your retail workers will make the entire holiday shopping experience more pleasant.

Waiting your turn, not interrupting others, and not pushing are only the tip of the iceberg.  Please don’t raise your voice, put items back randomly, or be afraid to ask questions.

Not only are associates more inclined to help you if you are being polite, I’ve even seen some associates make customers go through unnecessary hoops because they were being rude. 

Random Tips

Oh, and for the love of whatever you pray to, please don’t just leave clothing on the dressing room floors. Honestly. Some stores have a place where you can put items you don’t want, but if they don’t, just drop them off with the associate on duty. It’s so much less hassle for the retail workers.

Most of the time we don’t mind if you bring your kids shopping, BUT please, please, please, please don’t let them run around knocking stuff off, licking mirrors, sticking gum to things, or any other of the hundreds of gross things kids do when left unattended. Bottom line, watch your kids when you take them shopping.

Phones are great. I text or tweet the majority of the time when I’m shopping alone, but please refrain from texting or talking on the phone while your purchases are being rung up or while your asking for help. I had a customer yell at me once because I told her her total whole she was trying to order pizza. Just step out of line, let somebody else go in front of you, or simply wait until your done interacting with other live humans.

One last thing  . . . 

Here’s the list I use when Cody and I head out Christmas shopping! I love that it’s festive and has plenty of room for notes! 

Don’t forget I’m running a small giveaway – Check out this post for details!

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