My Black Friday Experience as a Retail Worker

Art by Laura Fox


It’s the season for eating and shopping for every deal possible, especially on Black Friday. However, working the holidays isn’t always easy. 

I am a seasonal Ulta employee in my hometown to make some extra money over winter break. Recently, I just worked over Thanksgiving break. A 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift on Thanksgiving day and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. shift on Black Friday. 

Honestly, working on a holiday is never fun, especially since I just wanted to eat a whole pie and hang out with my family. Yet, I really do need the money, so I was thankful for that. 

I wish stores weren’t starting to open so early. I believe holidays like Thanksgiving, where we’re supposed to be thankful for what we have, should be reserved for family no matter what.

Of course, companies know they can make a ton of money by annually changing their Black Friday opening times, but it’s really not fair to workers. 

According to Nathaniel Meyersohn from CNN, “shopping on the holiday has risen in recent years because so many stores are crammed with customers scrambling to take advantage of Black Friday doorbuster sales, experts say.” Stores are making as much as 30% of their total profit of the year just during the holiday sales. 

Stores are also starting their deals as early as the day before Thanksgiving and continuing them until Cyber Monday. According to Nandita Bose from Reuters, “Online sales rose more than 19.6%, reaching $7.4 billion on Black Friday.” 

Most shoppers are finding their items online now and Thanksgiving Day has become the most popular day for people to make their purchases. Although Black Friday is still a very big day for retailers, there is a lot of competition between stores and online. Larger companies like Walmart, Target and Best Buy are competing with one of the biggest online retailers, Amazon. Even though there is a lot of competition between stores, it would be nice if they opened at midnight on Black Friday rather than opening earlier so workers can actually enjoy the holiday. 

I didn’t experience any crazy stories or people trampling each other over a Too Faced palette. As I stood at the front of the store, I saw a sea of people in line, beginning at the register, all the way to the back of the store. More and more people came into the store, frantically grabbing items off the displays and hurrying to the checkout line. There were random bags and products scattering the end caps, floors and shelves. A woman got into line extremely frustrated because she said another woman tried snatching items out of her hands. I worked as a cashier and I didn’t stop ringing out customers until a little after my shift ended. I even needed my family to bring me a coffee to stay awake for the night. 

After stumbling out of bed and hurrying to work trying to avoid the heavy traffic, my Friday shift was actually a lot more hectic. We had several crashing registers and  a very long line of people getting impatient. Our managers were constantly on the phone with the IT people trying to figure out how to reset the registers to get them to work. We even had one woman who had to try to pay for her things on four different registers. It became a little harder to maintain a steady flow. Many people began to return items they had bought the night before or ask questions about items and our stock. My coworkers and I tried our best to power through and help each other through the tough times. Everyone of us were constantly moving, quickly ringing out customers or running around trying to help people find products. We all understood the struggle and whenever another one of us asked for help, we were sure to answer or assist however we could.

As my shift came to a close, I was excited to get off and see my mom who I haven’t seen for a few months because she lives in a different state. Since I couldn’t really see any family on Thanksgiving Day, I was looking forward to getting through my shifts. Keeping this positive mindset really helped me deal with the high stress environment. 

Overall, aside from it being extremely busy, working on Black Friday isn’t that horrible. I wish they stopped opening so early on a holiday because not everyone is able to see their family the rest of the year, much like I am not able to. Remember, if you do shop on holidays be kind to the workers. They want to give you a great customer experience and it’s appreciated when you return that same kindness. 

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