The Lull of Lulls

Now that the dreaded holiday season is over for most of you retail worker bees out there, you can now look forward to the most boring month for all shopping malls across America — January!

It is definitely a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the holidays are so busy and your seasonal colleagues are often times just warm bodies for the store so you are way overworked and underpaid. However, when the holidays end most stores are simply waiting on the bulk of the first-season inventory. Plus, due to the Chinese New Year and the amount of clothing products that are either manufactured there or distributed from there (or both) that first shipment can take a LONG time to arrive.

As nice as it can be to get paid for doing close to nothing, you also run the risk of getting your hours cut if you are not full-time. No matter how willing you were to pick up shifts and bust your behind throughout the holidays, if your store did not make its sales goals you could be down to one or two shift per week come January. The trick is, ALWAYS BE MOVING! If you are always rushing around and looking productive, you will not be cut by your manager unless there were no customers in the store at all (and on a Monday, that could possibly happen).

I recall one day in H&M when my colleague and I were both bored out of our minds but very close to the due dates of our rent. We wanted to leave and grab a burger so badly, but we could not afford to leave early nor could we afford to eat a burger at a restaurant…at least not until after rent was paid. In order to keep our hours for that day, we actually walked to every display, every shoe section (women, kids, etc.), every mannequin, etc. and tied the shoe laces on each shoe from end to end of that store. In a store as large as some of the H&M department stores, that took up nearly all of our remaining time. By the time we were done, we were no longer concerned about getting cut!

This year, Macy’s and Best Buy missed their sales goals by a significant amount, and American Apparel is filing for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, Forever 21 that has a history of running their stores like a well-air-conditioned sweatshop is considering purchasing the company. Jobs are going to be lost, hours will be cut, and more so than the normal January wave of dropping flies. Word to the wise, keep busy and KEEP MOVING! Don’t be afraid to look at other retail companies for a backup plan, because experience in one store can always translate to another. Good luck this January, Retail Zombies!

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