I Still Love Retail But I Don’t Miss Retail

I remember my first December in the custom channel very clearly: 9-5 office hours, comfy chair in an office, and meetings with clients. And with the exception of being closed on Boxing Day and only half-day hours from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, it was business as usual and no different from any other month of the year.

It was also absolutely different from the Decembers in retail that I had worked since I was 23, first in sporting goods and then in CE. Ah, the memories of working open to close, every day with no days off, subsisting on nothing but coffee and the rush of closing this sale, and then moving on to close the next sale.

And then there was Boxing Day. Coming up through the ranks, first in sales and later sales management, one of the rules of thumbs I learned was that in the first two weeks of December, your store’s sales volume should be equal to what you did in November. In the week leading up to Christmas eve, again, sales volume equal to all of November. For the final shopping weekend of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, again you were expected to equal your November sales. And on Boxing Day, guess what? That’s right, an entire November’s worth of sales jammed into a single 14-hour (or longer) day.

Good times, and I have plenty of funny stories. But I don’t miss it and I hope to never do it again. I’m only half joking when I say to people “I’ll pick up pop cans from the roadside before I go back to retail.”

And yet part of it is still in my blood. I still pay very close attention to retail stocks, and I find myself still reading the sales flyers from CE retailers every week, checking products and prices. I tell myself that as an industry expert it’s important to stay informed. But I know the real reason: I did it every morning to price check the competition and make sure we were tagged accordingly, so it’s a habit. I still recall one week in December when I re-tagged every single DVD player SKU eight times to keep up with price matching. What a crazy business.

I enjoy working in the custom channel, working in the trade media, and the hours that go along with it, and I’m not leaving. However, I still have plenty of friends, acquaintances and contacts in CE retail. My thoughts go out to them at this time of year, and I hope they’re having a good time.