3 Tips to Survive Black Friday as a Retail Worker

When did Thanksgiving weekend become an occasion to flaunt one’s prowess for retail hunting and gathering rather an opportunity to count one’s blessings? If you work in the retail industry, you are probably gearing up for Black Friday.  

The official start to the holiday season has not historically seen Americans exhibiting their kindest or their most festive behavior. Intoxicated by the prospect of saving money on holiday gifts, Black Friday shoppers’ notorious reputation has only fueled retailers’ enthusiasm to direct the throngs into their stores.   

At some retail locations, the Black Friday festivities start Thanksgiving afternoon or evening, while other stores are closed for the holiday but will be open bright and early on Friday November 27. Whether your Black Friday assignment starts Thursday or Friday, here are a few tips to help you make it through:  

Dress the part

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, because you are going to be on your feet and running hard for the duration of your shift. Also, with so many more people in the store at one time, you are going to get really warm, so dress in layers. And due to the holiday vibe, you may be asked to wear a Santa hat or some other festive apparel for the occasion–cute for ten minutes and then brutally hot.

Exercise mental crowd control

Existing in crowds doesn’t bring out the best in people. Crowds cause stress. They make people worry that their individual needs are going unheard and so their behavior becomes louder and increasingly urgent. Don’t absorb the urgency in the environment. You don’t have to share in this discomfort. Aim to be a beacon of calm.

You have a job to do, and your customers are important. But you are important too. You are the one controlling this situation so don’t hesitate to politely ask them for the respect you deserve.

Using a controlled voice remind your customers what you expect:  “Sir, I’m happy to assist you, but I can’t do so when you are raising your voice to me. I’ll give you a moment to reclaim your composure and then we can continue.”

You are a professional who came here to work. While you would like to help as many people as you can, you deserve respect. Rudeness or aggressiveness is unacceptable. Adults should understand this. They may believe that their urgency gives them the right to try to control the situation with rude behavior. This is simply not true.

Have fun with it

Working retail on Black Friday is a true cultural experience. You will get a slew of interesting stories out of this and it is also resume building. It’s impressive to be able to say that you did this. It’s hard work and people will respect you for doing it.

They will also want to hear your juicy stories about it. You and your coworkers can have a lot of fun with this. Come up with a team contest for the best story, craziest customer, oddest request, etc. It will make those difficult moments a bit easier to handle and it will help you put this whole experience into perspective.


Working Black Friday might be a bit of a zoo, but it’s also a huge accomplishment. You are multitasking, providing customer service, and troubleshooting problems at a truly impressive pace. It’s going to be an interesting life experience. It will yield great answers to future job interview questions. Plus, this can be a lot of fun. So own it. Black Friday here you come.