UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

‘Tis the season for the retail holiday nightmare


The holiday season is supposed to be a great time for many reasons. Family members come into town to visit, home cooked meals take place and you can not forget about the gifts. Decorations are everywhere and Christmas lights rival the stars at night in many neighborhoods.

In a perfect world, everyone and anyone would be able to enjoy this time of the year, but the sad reality is that many employers work their employees to the point of where they disdain the holidays. What reality am I speaking of? Well, if you are a college student than you also work in the sad reality of retail. Retail workers are under-paid, under-appreciated and overwhelmed with holiday demands of the people.

IMAGE: The Signal reporter Ryan Crawford. Staff photo.
Staff photo.

We are in that time of the year, where many people’s minds shift from giving thanks to giving gifts. It seems like an easy task to accomplish, but as many know in retail it is easier said than done. Let me shed some light into what is known as the “Christmas nightmare.”

Phase 1: No supply and too much demand

Supply and demand is a commonly known tactic in retail, but as the holiday season is in full swing we see retailers have less merchandise and too many people wanting it. Every holiday season there are always a few choice gifts that every child or teen are praying to wake up to on Christmas morning.

Have you ever had a middle-aged mother scream in your face that you were personally responsible for “ruining” their child’s Christmas? I have. If 200 people want a particular item, but the company only has five in stock, it suddenly becomes my job to inform the remaining 150 consumers that we have sold out.

Who is at fault for this? I am, I always am. At least according to the customer, who “is always right.”

Phase 2: Lines

With so many companies deciding to open earlier and stay open later, it makes it so much easier for consumers to have the ability to shop anytime they want. With many retailers offering online shopping options, it truly has become so easy to take care of Christmas shopping. With all those attributes in place it seems that there would be no waiting in lines or issues fulfilling orders…. right? Wrong.

It seems, that the American way of life is to wait last minute for everything, and it is the cashiers fault for not being fast enough. Lines are a part of life and the fact of the matter is the general public hates it.

I recently witnessed two, full-grown adults yell at the top of their lungs like children because one had cut in line. That yelling was quickly shifted to me as it seemed that the cutter and I were in cahoots together, according to this individual. “Are you going to allow this to happen?” Yes, yes I am.

Phase 3: Can you check the back?

In 2017, many businesses have created the ability to track the stock of all items electronically. Many companies invest a lot of money in these applications, so it is almost always right.

“I am so sorry ma’am, it appears we are out of stock on this particular product.”

“Well can you check in the back?”

Yes I can, because I completely forgot about the tree I planted that grows this product and it will magically be in stock again. If you ask this question, you a part of the problem.

The final phase: The last push

The week before Christmas can be easily compared to a bloody war, where zero prisoners are taken. Retailers are constantly trying to play catch up as consumers are buying everything that is not bolted down. A wise man once told me,“If it is on sale, some idiot is going to buy it.”People flock to stores in waves, scratching and clawing for last minute gift ideas.

One tip you will learn is to never leave your shopping cart unattended. People will shop out of it and buy its contents before you can. This war for gifts will last until Christmas Eve and, hopefully, you will survive unscathed, at least until next year.

My one wish for the people shopping this year is to please be kind to the workers. Often we are over-worked and would love to see our families as well. We get it,  you can’t get your child the latest goodie because we sold out, but its not our direct fault. Save the yelling please.

Please comment and share your own holiday stories and nightmares!!