Pros & Cons of Retail Work

Pros & Cons of Retail Work
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Most of us college graduates have probably already had our fair share of jobs. If you’re a college student and haven’t worked anywhere yet, I’d recommend finding a job to start building your resume. Some of you are probably like me or Anthony, who have worked in retail before (or are still working) and know how it can be. If you haven’t worked in retail and are considering (or about to start), here is a list of the pros & cons of retail work. And even if you have your fair share of retail work experience, see if you agree with some of these points.

Retail Work Pros:

Career Advancement

Depending on the retail, you may have a multitude of opportunities to advance your career. It may or may not be at the same location but you’ll have the chances. The first retail store I worked at was Walmart, and there were plenty of opportunities at a variety of stores. If you’re going to college, you’ll want to take advantage of being able to get as much experience in your store by having different work titles. And even if you don’t see yourself advancing your career in the store, you’ll at least have work experience that will allow you to have things to talk about at future interviews (especially if you have experience in a management role and you choose to apply for a management role in the future elsewhere)

Schedule Flexibility

Again, it does depend on the retail location but if you’re like me and your retail is about the same size as Walmart, you’ll be able to have a greater schedule flexibility that will allow you to work and go to college at the same time. This could be considered a con if you’re in a small retail location but I’ve found that at the places I’ve worked at, I’ve been able to go to school and work at the same time.

Awesome Discounts!

Most places typically will offer you discounts on a variety of things, starting with some products that you’re store offers. I say most, because I’ve heard of some places that don’t really offer a discount on their products. You might also get discounts on other things such as vacation packages, hotels, theme parks, etc. thanks to the partnerships that retail stores have with these discount services.

Help With Tuition

I’ve worked at some places that do and others that don’t offer to help you pay for college or a reduced fee, but it’s a popular benefit that some retail stores offer. It’s actually one of my favorite benefits to see a retail store offer as it shows that they’re interested in helping you obtain a higher education and want you to advance in your career with the company.

Transfer Opportunities

Depending on how many locations available, most retail places make it easy for you to transfer to another location in the event that you move cities. You may have to have a change in job title but you’re at an advantage of being able to work at a different store already because you have the work experience with the company already.

You Learn About Retail

When you’re working at a retail location it helps you understand what other retail workers are going through and why they may be having a bad day.

For people who haven’t worked at retail before it’s hard to understand what it really is to work in retail so naturally working in retail allows you to have a much better understanding and appreciation for retail. 

Retail Work Cons:

Dealing with Nonsense At Times

If you’ve worked in retail, you probably have dozens (if not a lot more) of stories about customers who had the most ridiculous complaints. Some can get so angry they start yelling at you in frustration. I had to mention this first because if you’re planning to work in retail, you have to be prepared for this and not let it get to you. This is the reason why I always say that everyone should have retail work in their job history because everyone who gets so annoyed at something ridiculous, has likely never worked at a store before.

Hours May Not Be Ideal

Again, this could be different for some but if you’re working part time, generally you’ll likely be working at different times and you may or may not know your weekly schedule. Of course, you can always tell your manager about any times you can’t work and see if they’re okay with working with your schedule.

Few Full Time Opportunities

Most retail jobs are part time so if you’re looking for full time work, it’ll be hard to find. The best way to get a chance at working full time is by starting out part time and getting more retail experience and eventually applying for a full time job. 

Workplace Drama

Again, depending on the size of the retail company you work at, it might be more or less, but the moment something happens in the store, you might instantly feel like you’re back in high school with all of the drama that might go on. This in turn, can affect your work performance and if you don’t get along with your department coworkers then you’re going to dread having to go to work each day. The best thing is to avoid any drama and just focus on your own work but you might be in a situation where you have a lot of coworkers that just don’t understand where they’re at. It’s true that you can find workplace drama anywhere but in a retail store there can be even more than at any other place.

Working on Thanksgiving

Most of the time, you’ll likely have to work on Black Friday, which as we all know, is now not on Friday but on Thanksgiving night. This might be a major deal breaker for you, especially if you have a tradition to have a dinner with your family each year. Unfortunately, most retail locations follow the Thanksgiving Black Friday schedule, so you’ll likely have to go, unless you get lucky like me. I had classes on Thursdays most of the time so I couldn’t work on Thursday, so there was no way they’d be able to schedule me. Although I did have a semester where I didn’t have class, so I worked on Black Friday for one year. Aside from not being able to celebrate Thanksgiving, this is also another day in which you have to deal with customer nonsense but at twice that amount in just a couple of hours. If you’re looking at what classes to take during a Fall semester, I recommend going with a night class on a Thursday so you know you won’t be working on that day. I myself, didn’t choose to have class on those days for that reason. They just happened to fall on a Thursday.

Parking Might Not Be Ideal

Depending on where you work, you might have to park either at a designated employee parking area, or at a further area where customers would never park at (unless it was on Black Friday). While this might not seem as bad, it can be especially if you have a late shift. It makes sense that customers would get priority over parking but sometimes you’d think that employees would always have a good spot to park at, where they won’t feel unsafe if they get out late. 

Do you have any pros/cons yourself that you’d like to add to the list? Please feel free to share any in the comment section below.


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