Retail Hell

Mariam Gevorgyan recalls the harsh reality of working in retail and the poor treatment of employees in this industry

Q: Can you give an overview of how you were treated during your time in retail?
A: Overall I felt like a slave. Due to so many workers being available to replace you, you are treated as if you have no worth and in this sense you feel disposable.

Q: Are there any particular experiences which you can recall to demonstrate the unsatisfactory working conditions which led to you feel this way?
A: Certainly, one of my worst experiences was when I had booked a holiday which had been approved by my manager, however later on I was accused of lying about the approval, leading to my first warning. One time I had also told my manager that I could not do overtime which triggered him to who grab my arm and said that I had no choice, this was all in the presence of a customer who was silently watching, completely gobsmacked.

Q: Given these appalling conditions, what were your reasons for staying in this job as long as you did and were there any benefits of the job?
A: My financial situation was the core reason of why I had to keep this job. I basically had no other option as this job provides me security and helps me meet ends. As far as benefits, workers do not even receive a discount on items or have a bonus scheme, making hard work very demotivating. The people you work with tend to be the only thing that keeps you going, knowing that you’re not alone.

Q: What is your responsibility in your retail position and what bothers you on a daily basis?
A: I specialise in the lingerie section. I find it shocking that some customers are comfortable with trying on lingerie in broad day light and also couples who are really intimate.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking of working in retail?
A: Be selective with where you work, have standards in the way you’re treated and don’t settle for less – know your worth. Also definitely do not take more than you can handle. I regret staying for far longer than I should have. I feel like I really limited myself and just became comfortable with what I knew. I feel that it is important to raise awareness on this topic as many young individuals work in retail yet there is a lack of transparency in how individuals are treated and what conditions they work in. No one should settle for less regardless of their circumstances.

Note from the journalist: I feel that it is important to raise awareness on this topic as many young individuals work in retail yet there is a lack of transparency in how individuals are treated and what conditions they work in. No one should settle for less regardless of their circumstances.