The 26th of December is traditionally a family day. Twelve years of retail has left me often wondering what that feels like, especially with my employer. The expectation to work the day after Christmas turns Christmas itself into a frenetic day off work, rather than the important family occasion that it actually is.
This expectation is driven by rampant commercialism. Shoppers expect bargains and deals on Boxing Day and throughout the winter sale. Retailers fuel and are fuelled by these demands. This leads to long opening hours and busy days – ten or so days in a row, without time off. This is exhausting and ultimately, unnecessary. I’ll let everyone in on one of the worst-kept secrets in the world – most of the winter sale prices are not the ‘best ever’ prices, especially in an environment where stock is continually rotated. It’s a ploy, a game of technicalities to generate interest. It works, and it works well, but it relies upon cynical exploitation of shoppers and staff alike.
It’s not even down to the retailers, or rather, it’s not fully down to the retailers. If we weren’t so caught up in a culture of possession and materialism, if owning the latest gadget wasn’t a show of status, shops wouldn’t feel the need to to try and exploit this – and every business exists to make money. They’ll do what they need to do to make it, as will the sales staff and consultants. Also, not every retailer operates in the same way. It would not be reasonable to tar them all with the same brush. When they do operate in such a manner, it’s a combination of consumer greed and company greed. Unfortunately, this impacts the staff at store level more than anyone else. We are the ones who sacrifice family time over the festive period. We are the ones who work ourselves to the bone, often getting ill (this is the season for colds after all).
I should not be too moany. Those who work in the emergency services have it far worse. This is all relative. It doesn’t make it any less of a pain to me though.