THE BLOG

The Realities of Retail: 'This Is My Proper Job!'

07/04/2014 14:56 BST | Updated 06/06/2014 10:59 BST

I work in a shop and I look forward to going to work each morning - that for me is the most important thing about a job.

Yet why do so many people deem retail to be an unrespectable sector to work in? Why is it automatically presumed if you are working in a shop that it is only a temporary arrangement, that you are aspiring to be something else, do something else or be somewhere else? Why do people think 'when are you going to get a proper job?' is a perfectly acceptable question to ask? Everyday people who work in shops are faced with judgemental glances, inappropriate questions and belittling actions; deemed inferior because they 'just work in a shop.' This is a perception that needs to change.

Working in retail doesn't make you uneducated or unambitious. Just because someone spends their day in a shop rather than an office, a classroom, a courtroom, a hospital, a museum, a library, or a lecture theatre doesn't mean they are incapable of working in any of these places, they have just chosen not to. It needs to be realised that people want to work in retail; they have made a career out of it, see a future in it, and actually enjoy it.

When someone asks me what I do, I say truthfully and proudly that 'I work in a shop.' I have received various responses the most popular being 'well, what are you GOING to do?' as well as disapproving looks. I can't help but think if I said 'I work in retail. I'm a buyer/manager/visual merchandiser for John Lewis/Marks & Spencer/Selfridges' that I wouldn't receive this negative treatment; that a recognisable name and an official job title would give validation and credibility to my chosen career.

Working in a small, independently run boutique I find myself being increasingly infuriated by the treatment my colleagues and I receive. People who run small retail businesses do the exact same jobs as the people who work for the famous names in retail, without receiving any of the recognition or respect that comes with the name of a big department store and a fancy job title. Whereas the stores I'm talking about have whole teams dedicated to each department, just 1 or 2 people in independent businesses do everything themselves. They are the buyers, the visual merchandisers, the accounts department, web designers, social media managers, customer services, shop managers, event organisers, marketing team, cleaners and sales assistants; greeting every customer with a smile. Multi-tasking and multi-talented, the staff in your local shops do more than most of their customers could ever realise,

The person who sells you your groceries, your shoes or your home furnishings deserves to be treated with just as much respect as anyone in any other profession and taken just as seriously in the job that they do. Anyone who struggles with this notion should probably do their shopping online, because retailers are busy people, their time is precious and shouldn't be wasted justifying the choices they have made to anyone.