The holidays can be stressful in retail, to state the obvious. With crowded stores, frazzled employees, and grouchy customers, there may be days when you want to go hide. They can also be a lot of fun as we try to close out our year with great results, using our groups’ collective energy to power through to the end.
During my career in retail, I’ve experienced a mix of both, and I’ve come to realize there are things we can do to limit the stress and experience more of the adrenaline-fueled fun. Here are a few ways to help get yourself through the next few weeks in one piece.
Don’t get pregnant right before the holidays. True story. Working seven days in a row, 13 hours a day, and trying not to throw up throughout most of it was not fun. I don’t recommend it. I have vivid memories of driving to Iowa in the snow and stopping at Culver’s for a chocolate shake multiple times without a clue as to why. Oh, and pulling off the side of the road to deal with “morning sickness”—which was more like “all-day sickness” in my case—made my drives more interesting. Even more interesting was timing interviews around those Culver’s shakes. If you can plan better than this, I recommend it.
Don’t pick a Prius as your company car if you plan on surviving the holidays in the Midwest. Sorry if I offend any die-hard Toyota drivers with this one, but that car was really a mistake for me. What started as a plan to be eco-friendly and save on gas ended with many near-death experiences and ridiculous three-hour drives home in the snow. I believe I set a company record for accidents in that bright blue Prius. Never again!
Stay organized. I was on the road so much and doing so many cases every day that I had yellow notepads and garbage everywhere. Things became complicated and added to my stress when it came time to write up my case reports. It’s amazing how quickly a company car can get messy—I’m looking at you, Ford Focus! That thing became a rolling garbage can. Try to do your case reports as soon as you can because it’s way too easy to forget things when cases are coming at you full throttle.
Find a fun coworker. One of my operations partners was a complete Christmas nut. As annoying as it seemed at first, when he started wearing Christmas ties every day and put reindeer antlers on his car, you couldn’t help but appreciate his enthusiasm and pure love of the season. He helped make things bearable. Everyone got gifts, holiday parties were a must, and, in general, he just made the holiday season more fun.
Play games. A little healthy, holiday-themed competition never hurt anyone. Try to get your coworkers involved in a game that inspires people to perform. It could be Investigation Bingo with a holiday themed punch card, based on the type of case, dollar amount of admission, or some other metric. Or if you work in the home office, it might be Holiday Karaoke at lunch, White Elephant to see who gets the worst gift, or three-legged races in the hall to compete against human resources. Get creative! This will help you focus on something other than all the interviews you have stacked up for the week.
Wear the right shoes. You will be on your feet all day. You will be trudging through slush, road salt, and worse. Pick shoes that can handle all of that and maybe even bring a pair to change into in case something happens. This is not the time to try out those cute boots with the pointed toe and high heel.
Sleep whenever you can. Alarm calls at 3 a.m., delayed flights, and long days can all lead to a disrupted sleep schedule. Let your family know that you will not be your usual self during these weeks, and could they please honor the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door? Mommy will return to her normal self after inventory.
If you can enlist your spouse to help with the holiday shopping, you’ve won half the battle. Thank God for online shopping now, but early in my career my husband was on point for our kids’ Christmas lists. That way I could sleep instead of going back out to shop, which was the last possible thing I wanted at that point. Plus, I’m confident no one wanted to see a pregnant, sleepwalking zombie throwing random toys into a cart.
I hope you found this list helpful, or at least it brought back some good memories for you. Good luck during the holidays and may all your LP teams be merry and bright!