Observations of a Retail Archeologist

I’ve learned quite a bit about myself while working retail – how I act when I’m thrown together to work with random people (hint: fairly awkward), what some of my pet peeves are, etc. But one of the most interesting things? Observing customers and their behavior.

Sometimes I feel like an anthropologist or archeologist, depending on whether I’m looking at a customer’s behavior or the results of their shopping, respectively.

At times, I can make sense of actions. Exhibit A, the simple unfold and crumple:

IMG_1845It’s pretty straightforward and easy to fix.

Or we have the same thing with multiple occurrences:

IMG_1849 IMG_1853

Even though it looks bad, it’s only two or three offending shirts and the stacks next to them have been neatly dislodged. This only takes about 30 seconds to a minute to fix.

Then we have the item dump, most commonly found in departments right next to the registers:


Though for some odd reason, it seems that the closer the item dump is to the registers, the more hidden they become, with items stashed beneath piles of clothes, underneath tables, or between stacks of clothes. But again, easy to fix and understandable; I’ve certainly gotten up to the registers at a store and realized I had a few things I didn’t really need.

There are lots of similar examples, like a coat hanger discarded on one rack, with a coat of the exact same size hanging out by a mirror. These are all logical.

But once we hit Black Friday, all semblance of sense goes at the door.

Whether it’s a child walking next to their parents disinterestedly knocking stacks of folded clothes on the floor, someone flipping over and crumpling up half of a stack of the same size of shirt only to choose the 5th one of the same size, or the massive amounts of excess or dearth of hangers for the clearance racks (it’s always one or the other, there’s never anywhere close to the right amount of hangers for clothes), if I let myself think about it, I just end up confused and with a headache.

So starting about mid-October when I walk into my retail job, my head goes down (except to pop up to smile as brightly as I can manage at customers), my hands stay busy, and my mind stays as blank as I can keep it until we get to the new year.

Whether you’re behind the uniform and name badge dealing with crazy customers, or on the other side of the counter coping with long lines and mad rushes, I think we’re all looking forward to the new year and the return to normalcy after all of the holiday craziness.

Did you see anything weird, crazy, or strange while out shopping this winter? Are you glad to be past the shopping season, or will you miss the hunt for good deals? Let me know in the comments!


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