Retail Etiquette from a Sales Associate

I’ve worked in various retail settings for almost 4 years now. I’ve worked in three drastically different retail environments. The first was a consignment store. We kept things real classy, but I still think this falls into the category of bargain shopping. The next store I worked in was a high-end boutique (think dresses for $500) that sold unique clothing and shoes. And now I work in a mid-range, corporate store within a mall. As a sales associate and retail worker, I think I need to share some etiquette tips for shoppers. Some people can be extremely disrespectful and if you’ve never worked in retail, you might not even realize you’re doing things that makes sales associates want to cry. So here we go!

ALWAYS respond when someone greets you:
Any store I’ve ever worked in has trained me to greet every customer that walks through the door. Nothing is more frustrating and disheartening than when people COMPLETELY IGNORE YOU. It’s such a huge slap in the face. If someone says hello to you, it is common courtesy to acknowledge that greeting. I understand that maybe the music is loud and you don’t hear occasionally, but usually people avoid saying hello or making eye contact because they think that gives me the okay to start forcefully selling things to them. That’s not the case. Be polite!

Ask for help when trying to find your size
There are a few reasons for this. First, the sales associate generally knows exactly what sizes are available and where to find them. Second, when you are rooting through a perfectly folded stack of shirts or pants trying to find your size, you are making a HUGE mess. We have to refold every shirt/pair of pants after you’re done looking and that takes a lot of time. You can save yourself some time and save the sales associate a lot of folding by asking for some help. We’ll love you for it. Which leads me to…

Don’t put your go-backs away by yourself
In every store I’ve ever worked in, there is a very specific system to putting clothing back after they have been tried on. A lot of customers think they’re helping us by putting their clothes away after they tried things on, but this actually isn’t the case. If you put things back in the wrong spot or don’t put them back on the hanger in the right way, we have to do it again anyways. Plus, we’re there to work, which includes putting your unwanted items back on the floor. I think it’s a nice gesture when people try to do this for me, but I usually just have to re-do it when they leave the store which is silly. So don’t worry about putting your clothes away again, that’s why I’m here!

ALWAYS clean up after yourself in the dressing room
I said earlier that nothing is more disheartening than when people are blatantly rude to you. I might have lied. NOTHING is more disheartening than walking into a dressing room to see a giant pile of discarded clothing on the floor. I’m not even sure why it’s so daunting, but for some reason, walking into a dressing room that looks like the floor of an indecisive teenager’s bedroom fills me with dread. When you’re trying on clothes, do your best to at least throw them on the hanger again when you’re finished. We REALLY appreciate it.

Don’t talk on your phone while you’re paying
This is just really awkward and kind of a personal pet peeve (though I’m guilty of it occasionally). I’m always uncomfortable trying to ring a customer up when they’re on the phone because I feel rude interrupting their conversation to tell them their total/process payment/explain any necessary policies. If you’re on the phone, just hang up for a couple minutes till you get out of the store.

Don’t keep your headphones in while shopping
I’ve had people ask me questions with headphones in and make no attempt to listen to the reply. At least take one headphone out so you can hear what’s going on around you. Again, this is more of a personal pet peeve than anything.

Give credit where credit is due–COMMISSION
I don’t currently work on commission, but I used to so I feel the need to throw this in. If you spend a lot of time with a sales associate who helps you find the right style/size/color/etc., be sure to give them credit. Lots of sales people work on commission. In sales environments that are commission based, sometimes employees are competitive and steal sales from each other (sad but true and soo frustrating) so if you are working with one associate, when you check out do your best to give them the credit for your purchase. In many stores, associates don’t work on commission but are still evaluated based on their sales. If you are checking out and the cashier asks who was helping you, give credit to your sales associate!!

End rant. Next time you’re shopping, try to keep these tips in mind. If you’ve ever worked retail before, I’m sure that agree with most–if not all–of the things on this list. Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!!


6 thoughts on “Retail Etiquette from a Sales Associate

  1. AMEN! HAHA.I worked in retail for a few years and I think my least favorite part was the fitting rooms. It used to get so bad and I honestly couldn't believe that people really leave piles of clothes around like that! I actually got 'written up' once because I walked into a fitting room and sighed loudly at the pile of clothes. Apparently the customer was offended but I was just making a point. ;)

  2. Mel–I totally agree that just because I offer to help doesn't mean I'm on commission! Often, rude people ask if I'm just helping them because I'm on commission.Olivia– Yaaay for people who are polite to retail workers!!Little– yesssss I couldn't agree more. The worst part is when people are rude and it hurts my feelings. If I didn't have to work retail, I wouldn't, so be kind!

  3. another thing i hate (retail for 8 years) is when customers are just rude. if you didn't want to deal with people you should have shopped online, miss i', little.

  4. i worked in retail for years through highschool and my early college years. i know exactly how you feel! and I make a point to try and not do anything to piss off the associate. And the cell phone thing… BIGGEST pet peeve. I'm even bothered by it when I just see it happening. I hang up on my friends before being rude to the associate. :]

  5. Completely agree. Especially with the phone calls. Also:-Don't assume that I'm on commission because I ask to help you. I"m probably just really bored.-Don't shop with your dog. I hate that. People have allergies, and I don't want to have dog hair all over my stuff. (in France I saw a dog pee on the store floor!)-Mind your children. Sales associates are not babysitters, and some things in retail environments can be dangerous to your child. They are more important than the sweater you are looking at.

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