Combating consumer chaos


Photo Illustration: Whitney Sager/Iowa State Daily

One of the shopping etiquette issues customers display during the holiday season is leaving unwanted items where they do not belong in the store. This causes headaches for store employees who have to constantly have to pick up after careless customers.

Jolie Monroe

The holiday season is upon us, which means the malls are packed with customers pushing and shoving, impatiently trying to find that perfect item for everyone on their gift list.

Around the holidays, retail stores get a lot of new merchandise and have new seasonal workers on board, so frantic customers only make situations worse. Josh Ray, manager at Aeropostale at North Grand Mall, has worked in retail for approximately seven years. He has made it through multiple holiday seasons and has a few shopping guidelines for you to make everything easier for everyone.

Get shopping done early

“Usually, around the holidays, people are rushing around trying to buy stuff, so it’s better to go shopping earlier rather than later,” Ray said.

Many stores get holiday merchandise before the peak shopping time, so early shoppers will still be able to get what they come for. Early shopping tends to be less crowded and therefore less stressful.

Don’t be afraid to ask

The employees know the store better than anyone else. If you can’t find a product or a certain size, they might know another place in the store to look, or even check the back room. Not only is someone doing your shopping for you, but you’re not digging around in the merchandise, creating a mess for employees to pick up later.

Come prepared

“Bring a wish list or know exactly what you want to buy,” Ray said.

Playing the guessing game results in frustration, more chaos in the store and, potentially, a bad gift. Before purchasing clothing, it is also a good idea to ask friends and family for sizes, or to take a peek in their closet when the opportunity arises.

Although employees are used to guessing sizes for gifts, it is a much safer bet to know for sure. Coming with a list in hand “will help make things go a lot faster,” Ray said.

Always get a gift receipt

Even if you know you have the perfect gift, there is still a chance something could be wrong with it, or someone else has also purchased it for that person. Gift receipts save hassle and confusion for the returners and store employees when the dreaded return season begins.

Have a positive attitude

No one likes shopping in a crowded store. If you decide to do your shopping in peak hours, it is important to remember that patience is a virtue. Have a mission and accomplish it. Try not to get side-tracked, and keep in mind that employees are extremely busy trying to keep everyone happy and everything organized.

Ray jokingly said, “If you come in with an attitude, you might get one right back.”

Employees are under a lot of pressure, so staying positive will only result in more effective results for everyone.

Ray said that, inevitably, each year there is “at least one scuffle between customers over the last size of something. Both customers want it, and it becomes a game of tug of war.”

Ray said that when handling situations like this and holiday shopping in general, the best thing to do is follow the trusty golden rule — treat others as you would like to be treated. It seems elementary, but it can truly make or break a hectic shopping excursion.