6 Rules Of Shopping Etiquette Everyone Should Follow (From A Recovering Retail Salesperson)


They say the customer is always right, but in my days working at chain clothing stores, I’ve encountered quite a few shoppers who seemed to get the client-sales associate relationship all wrong. So just so there’s no more confusion about what is and isn’t appropriate to ask of the next overtired, underpaid cashier or dressing room attendant you come across, here are six rules that will make your shopping experience as painless as possible for all parties. Thank you, come again soon.

1. Don’t Expect Me To Remember You

Maybe you were were nice and we had a conversation. Maybe you were horrible and ruined my day. Maybe you have an interesting tattoo or you bought a bunch of stuff. There are lots of reasons I might remember you, and you might remember me. But if I don’t remember you, there is one big reason why: literally hundreds of people come into the store every day and I’m not paying attention to any of them.

I’m paying attention to the exits (shoplifters!), the food-carriers (stains!), and my boss (duh!). I’m folding. I’m sizing. I’m steaming. I’m counting down the minutes till my lunch break. If you put an item on hold, I’d be happy to grab it for you. If you expect me to remember “that thing I tried on last week,” honey, what the hell are you talking about?

2. I’m Not In Charge Of The Price, Size Or Color Of The Garments

“You expect me to pay over forty dollars for a tank top!?” No, the store does. “You don’t carry plus sizes!?” Lots of brands don’t make plus sizes; it’s a shame, and it’s also not my decision. “This doesn’t come in red!?” Lemme text the CEO real quick and have him make a red one just for you.

I promise, there is no secret stash of sale merchandise in the back that just happens to be the size and style you’re looking for. Comments about the clothes aren’t rude, exactly, but they put salespeople in the awkward position of having to agree without bad-mouthing their employer. Um, yeah, that is sort of ill-fitting, but it’s a really great dress, so maybe your body is just weird?

3. I’m Also Not In Charge Of The Store’s Hours, Location Or Return/Exchange Policy

A lot of people are under the impression that making a fuss is a good way to get what you want. They’re not wrong. Sticky wheels often get the grease, and if you beg hard enough for an exception to the rules, you just might get it. But it will come at the expense of your dignity, and also everyone will secretly hate you. Plus, you’ll look sort of stupid. It says thirty days on the receipt, and you’re trying to return this $10 pair of shoes three months after you bought them. Can you not read?

Sometimes stores close earlier than you get off work, or there’s no parking just outside. I can control literally none of those things. What I can do is get my manager. What you can do is grow up.

4. It’s. Just. Clothes.

It’s just clothes! Your honeymoon in Ibiza isn’t going to be ruined because you couldn’t find the perfect pair of off white capri pants, your daughter will make friends without the lady bug print headband you saw online, and your boyfriend will love you even if you get him his second-favorite band t-shirt for his birthday. Of course it’s my job to help you find the perfect item. Of course it’s my job to make sure you’re having a nice time. But if I’ve done all I can do, and you’re still in an absolutely rotten mood over, like, ankle boots? You need to check your priorities. If you let a miniskirt ruin your day, I’d hate to think how you handle the rather messy business of being a human.

5. This Is Not A Daycare

The second most shocking thing that ever happened when I was working retail was when a parent asked me to watch their preschool aged child for a few minutes. I don’t have kids, but I can only imagine that it’s a tremendously difficult responsibility, and that most parents, at one point or another, have considered leaving their child with a nice-looking salesperson while they run to the bathroom at the movie theater across the way. But still. You’d leave your kid with a stranger? I’m actually really good with kids, but you don’t know that.

I could be a psychopath, or a pedophile, or a kidnapper. What’s much more likely is that I could be be busy with other customers (since attending to customers, not kids, is, you know, my job?), and totally ignore your kid and it could wander out of the store and into harm’s way. And Who would be responsible for that? You! Because you left your kid with a stranger!

6. A Dressing Room Is Not A Bathroom

The most shocking thing that ever happened when I was working retail is when I worked at a store we’ll call Shmurban Shmoutfitters and someone pooped in the middle of the carpet in a dressing room. Please never do this.