While out Christmas shopping, how many retail and service industry staff will one person encounter?
From the associate that helps a customer find that sweater in the right size to the Subway employee who makes their sandwich, there are people whose job it is to serve others throughout their shopping experience.
These are positions that always need to be filled. Without them, we would have to make our own sandwiches and get our own sweaters.
And yet these are people who are not always treated very nicely.
Granted, it is a two-way street, and I understand that stress affects both groups during the holiday season.
Unfortunately that stress can manifest itself into yelling at strangers or getting short with the person working the cash register.
From my experience in the retail industry, I have enough stories of rude and messy (word?) people to fill a novel.
There are those that don’t bother to put stuff back on hangers, those who wreck displays, those who get angry at employees for return policies they have no control over.
Retail and service industry workers deserve more respect than what is given to them.
And more and more people are being put in situations like this.
The number of people working retail in Canada has been on a steady increase over the last five years, growing from 1.88 million people in 2012 to 1.96 million in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.
According to payscale.com, Canadian retail workers are paid very little over minimum wage, with the average retail worker’s wage at $11.81/hour.
“Pay for this job does not change much by experience,” according to the website, “with the most experienced earning only a bit more than the least.”
The majority of jobs in the retail and service industry are not full time, either. At the average salary of $11.81, even at a generous 35 hours a week, a retail worker earns $21,494.20 a year.
The average tax rate in Saskatchewan for that yearly income is around 14.15 per cent, so they are only taking home around $18.452.77.
The average age of part-time retail staff is on the rise as well. Accord to the US Bureau of Labour, the median age of retail workers in the US in 2016 was 37.9.
People often think that it is the under-20 crowd who are working these positions, but it is not.
It is single and working parents, retirees and career retail workers who are filling these valuable positions in retail and service.
We need to change our attitudes towards retail workers. These are people who often work six- to eight-hour shifts while having to deal with angry and irate customers who may think they are too old for the job, all while not making enough to pay their rent and bills.
We should remember this year-round, but this holiday season, can we actually treat our retail staff like people?
How would you want to be treated if you were working retail at Christmas?