Clothing store employees need help dealing with demanding customers in a fast-paced retail environment. However, some customers take their behaviour to an extreme level, treating workers disrespectfully and making unreasonable demands. This essay will analyze common rude customer behaviours in clothing stores and their effects on employees and businesses.
Messy and Unsanitary Behaviors
Some of the most egregious customer behaviours involve creating unsanitary conditions in stores. For example, a survey found that 73% of clothing retail workers said customers regularly return clothes damaged, stained or dirty after trying them on (Retail Employee Survey, 2021). This forces employees to damage excellent merchandise and is disrespectful to other shoppers.
In the same survey, 65% of respondents reported that customers use dressing rooms as impromptu bathrooms at least once weekly, creating biohazardous messes for workers to clean.
Bringing food and drinks into a clothing store is another messy behavior. In a retail study, 39% of clothing store workers reported cleaning up spilt glasses and food crumbs daily, taking time away from serving customers (Retail Cleanliness Study, 2019).
|Cause of Mess
|% of Employees Reporting Daily Issue
|Abandoned Cart Clothes
Leaving shopping carts overflowing with unwanted clothes is also problematic. It turns a sales floor into an obstacle course for workers restocking and tidying up.
Demanding and Unreasonable Expectations
Clothing store employees often face demanding and unreasonable customer expectations. According to a retail trade survey, 68% of clothing store workers said they deal with customers haggling over prices at least once per shift (Retail Expectations Survey, 2022). Retail employees have no control over pricing and cannot negotiate sales on individual items. This puts workers in an uncomfortable position of having to deny customer demands.
Another unreasonable expectation involves customers who want employees to locate out-of-stock merchandise. In one survey, 81% of clothing retail workers reported dealing with angry customers demanding out-of-stock items at least weekly (Retail Survey 2021). If an item is out of stock, staff can’t make it materialize out of thin air. When customers become angry over something out of an employee’s control, it creates a tense and stressful working environment.
Disrespectful and Abusive Treatment
The most severe rude behaviours involve outright disrespectful and abusive treatment of clothing store staff. According to a 2017 study, over 60% of clothing retail employees reported experiencing verbal abuse from customers, including yelling, threats, and profanity, on at least a monthly basis (Retail Abuse Study 2017).
Letting children run wild in a store and damage property is also disrespectful. A retail crime study found that around 30% of clothing stores experience intentional damage from unsupervised children at least once a month, forcing staff to deal with irate parents (Retail Crime Study 2019).
Customers who are dismissive or ignore greetings from staff are exhibiting subtle forms of disrespect. In one survey, over 70% of clothing store employees reported feeling disrespected when customers miss their greetings and do not make eye contact (Disrespect Study 2022).
Effects on Employees and Businesses
The cumulative effects of disrespectful customer treatment take a toll on retail employees and clothing stores. Dealing with unreasonable demands, messy environments, and abuse can lower staff morale. Studies show retail employees deal with higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression compared to other industries as a result of disrespectful treatment (Mental Health in Retail Study 2021).
This leads to higher staff turnover as workers seek less stressful positions. Abusive customers also create unsafe working conditions and harm a business’s reputation. For companies, disrespectful customer incidents cost money. Employees take longer to complete tasks like restocking when stores are left messy. High staff turnover also raises hiring and training costs. And abusive customers can harm a store’s reputation and make other shoppers uncomfortable. Clothing stores have a vested interest in upholding standards of respect.
Better Ways for Customers to Behave
Customers can avoid these disrespectful behaviours by following basic standards of decency. Trying on clothes neatly and not creating intentional messes is a way to show respect. Having realistic expectations of employees and not haggling over prices is reasonable. Control unruly children and do not unjustly accuse workers of wrongdoing. And most importantly, be patient and do not verbally abuse staff. A little civility and empathy from customers can improve clothing store environments.
Rude customer actions like making unreasonable demands, creating unsanitary conditions and abusing staff take a toll. Clothing stores should uphold codes of conduct that do not tolerate blatant disrespect. Better public education on appropriately behaving in retail establishments also needs to be improved. With some minor improvements in etiquette, customers can avoid acting in ways that harm employees and businesses.