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Retail Sector - Stressful lost cause

Paul Francis


The Retail Sector

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The retail sector is a significant employer in many countries, including the United Kingdom. Whilst it can offer rewarding careers, it can also bring significant problems. In this article, we will explore some of the statistics and reasons why working in the retail sector can be stressful.

One of the primary causes of stress in the retail sector is the pressure to meet sales targets. In a survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 51% of retail workers reported feeling pressure to meet sales targets, with 29% saying that this pressure was excessive. This can create a high-pressure environment.

Furthermore, retail workers are often under pressure to provide excellent customer service. According to a survey by PwC, 75% of consumers in the UK believe that customer service is the most important factor when choosing to shop with a particular retailer. However, this can put a strain on retail workers who are expected to handle customer complaints and issues with a smile and a positive attitude, even when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Another source of stress in the retail sector is the long and unpredictable working hours. In a survey conducted by the British Retail Consortium, 60% of retail workers reported that their shifts changed on a weekly basis, making it difficult to plan their personal lives. This can lead to fatigue and burnout, which can further exacerbate stress levels.

Moreover, retail work can be physically demanding. In a survey by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 51% of retail workers reported experiencing back pain, and 45% reported experiencing leg pain. Employees may have to lift and carry heavy items, which can lead to injuries and physical strain.

Furthermore, the lack of job security in the retail sector can also contribute to worry. In the UK, the retail sector has a high turnover rate, with an average employee tenure of just 17 months. This can make it difficult for employees to plan for their future or feel financially stable.

Finally, the Covid 19 pandemic created additional anxieties for retail workers. In a survey by the US National Retail Federation, 60% of retail workers reported feeling stressed about the health risks associated with working during the pandemic. Retail employees had to adapt to new safety protocols and procedures, such as wearing masks, enforcing social distancing, and sanitising surfaces. This created stressful environments, particularly for employees who were worried about their own health and the health of their loved ones.

Post-pandemic has also seen record levels of abuse towards retail employers. It seems that the entitlement of customers has risen whilst their patience has worn thinner. Boundaries have also waned, which has led some customers to forget that they’re talking to a poorly-paid worker who has no influence or control over the majority of their complaint. 

If retail companies cant make their working environments safe and a joy to work in, it’s little wonder that they can’t hold onto staff. A lack of staff only perpetuates customer complaints, which makes the environment even less attractive to work in.

What’s the solution?

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