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Confessions of a Shop Girl at Christmas

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Working in retail can have its pros and cons, pros could be a reliable income and discount on clothes. Cons vary from inconsiderate customers to my biggest hate... the Christmas boom.

For most people the festive season starts around the beginning of December, for us poor suckers in retail we are forced to think all-things Christmassy as soon as we've sold out of flip-flops in July, and the store is stocked to bursting with winter wear and the dreaded Christmas jumper. Not to mention customers buying their gifts in the summer sales... which may be saver savvy but I'm not too sure who wants a beach hat for Christmas?

So we are reminded of Christmas in summer and then it fades away for a few months, you enjoy the autumn launch and are distracted by mid-season sales and promotions until....

One morning you come in half asleep to open up and there it is... lying on the doormat is the festive tunes CD that you knew would be coming, but already, really?! It goes into the music system and drives you insane until January.

Blasting throughout the store on full volume is Jack Johnson's rendition of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer -- in October! The company like to start the morning with relaxed mellow tunes, so I expect Nicki Minaj's version of Jingle Bells by lunchtime.

As soon as the Christmas music starts people begin to panic and the countdown begins: "Only 12 weeks until Christmas you know!" You would think Halloween and bonfire night might distract people, but no, it only makes people think more about how Christmas is "just around the corner".

It gets to November and company policy deems it is "officially" Christmas: the window displays are up, the music has gone from every fifth song being a carol to all songs all the time. And of course us store staff have busied ourselves decorating a tree with earmuffs as ball balls, and scarves as tinsel.

You are now expected to ask every customer banal seasonal questions such as: (fixes cheesy grin) How is the Christmas shopping going? Is this a present and would you like a gift receipt? No I cannot wrap it for you -- stop being lazy, this is Christmas be personal and do it yourself! (Not that I actually say this last bit.)

Then you come across the lovely customer who makes life feel somewhat better. You ask all of the questions and they say "I haven't even started gift shopping yet, this is a present for me because I like it' THANK YOU like me, and will leave Christmas shopping until the 23rd December, and still enjoy the big day like everyone else.

So by now you probably think I am one big Scrooge, but I am not. I LOVE Christmas and cannot wait for this one in particular. For the first time in five years I have Christmas Eve and Boxing Day all to myself; with no sale preparations or Boxing Day madness just sloe gin and leftover turkey... perfect.