"If it's fun, it's never work. And if it isn't fun, it'll never work." Hobie Alter.

Working in retail can be both a fun and rewarding experience. It can present a world of opportunities; whether its exposure to exclusive collections, designers, and trends or making friends that last long beyond your days in store. However, once you sprinkle on a little festive cheer, along with increased targets and higher in-store footfall, the result can be the last thing you want for Christmas: Stress.

‘Holiday Stress’ can make it difficult to maintain your fantastic levels of customer service as everyone rushes in to store. It’s important to look after yourself so you can continue to perform to the best of your ability and ensure that the stress doesn’t get the best of you. With this in mind, here are 5 easy tips to ensure success navigating retail’s busiest time of year:

  1. Well-being:

Taking care of one’s self is essential to being successful, especially during these exceptionally busy months. With the temperature dropping and numerous bugs circulating, making sure that you have plenty of rest, eat a healthy and balanced diet as well as being well-hydrated will increase your stamina and your performance. Precautionary methods such as taking vitamins or Echinacea can help to reduce your likelihood of getting sick, and ensuring you don’t drink too much coffee as this can exacerbate stress.  Being well-groomed and immaculately dressed will guarantee that you are conveying the right message, encouraging trust, and reinforcing credibility.

  1. Time management

Time management is a crucial skill, both on and off the shop floor. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of travel time to avoid the holiday rush and ensure that you are not flustered before you even get to work. This is the season of festivity and train maintenance, so ensure you have checked your route for any delays beforehand. Time management on the shop floor can be tough during busy times, ensure you are polite but direct to avoid confusion and any delays when assisting customers. Making sure each client feels welcome and pampered, without individually monopolising your time, is the true art of the sales associate. Patience and remaining level headed are a must.

  1. Product Knowledge

Strong and clear product knowledge is an essential tool in the selling process, as well as a preventative measure against unnecessary stress. The more informed you are regarding the stock in store, the better equipped you are to inform customers – avoiding any chance of giving misinformation and subsequent disappointment. Learn as much as you can about the construction, design, and inspiration of your inventory. Be sure to ask colleagues and managers for details about various fabrics, materials, and the history of the brands that you are working with so you are able to be a true brand ambassador.

  1. Keeping the Peace

Being faced with a number of customers who expect to be served immediately can be overwhelming. One way to tackle this is to begin by simply introducing yourself to the group as a whole and asking who was there first. Apologise to the rest of the group for the delay in service, ensuring them that you are aware that they are waiting and you or a colleague will attend to them  in as timely manner as possible. The customer will appreciate your assertiveness and that you have acknowledged the delay. Maintaining a positive attitude is key. Remember, although their frustration may, at times, unfortunately, be directed towards you, it is likely their own frustrations at dealing with the holiday crowds. Try not to take any frosty behaviour personally, but report any discriminatory behaviour – be it racial or sexist – to a manager. You are the face of your brand and deserve to work in a safe environment.

  1. Empathy and Stress Management

The key to a perfect client experience is leveraging a real sense of empathy. It is essential to not only understand the client’s needs and perspectives but also to reassure them that you understand through reflective listening.  This simple technique of repeating the client’s needs verifies your understanding and comforts the client that you can provide the service and products they seek.  This is also vital for your own stress management, as it will reduce the risk of conflict and allow you to relate to your customer much more effectively. Good eye contact, positive body language, and tone of voice are all helpful tools in conveying empathy successfully.

If you follow these simple tips and remain positive, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a stressful time. Remember you are not alone, you and your team are all experiencing the commotion together and it is important to work together to achieve the best results. And just remember, come December 25th the only stress you need have is which armchair you choose to nap in after a festive feast – happy holidays!