Black Friday Puts Unnecessary Stress on Retail Workers

Students Working in Retail Struggle to Balance Work and School

  • Retail workers dread Black Friday and the long working day it brings. Photo Sheena Macmillan

Ste. Catherine St. and stores across the island are covered in holiday decorations, ready to dazzle visitors.

However, downtown Montreal has recently seen less consumer traffic due to heavy construction on roads leading to the city center. The streets of the downtown core and malls like the Eaton Center are also undergoing renovations.

With Black Friday quickly approaching, people are preparing to make purchases at a fraction of their original cost.

While it may be an excellent opportunity to save, it can be stressful for some students working in shops offering big sales. Stores will be seeing thousands of clients in a day and generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in the process.

Leah is a university student who works part-time in retail. The hecticness of Black Friday adds onto the stress of being a full-time student, she said.

“Black Friday is a huge inconvenience to me. With finals being only a week away, it makes it harder to schedule a time to study while being forced to work all weekend long,” she said.

“Black Friday is an overall added stress and anxiety, due to the huge crowds and extremely fast-paced energy that can become overwhelming,” she said.

The Black Friday trend came north from the US about a decade ago, to encourage Canadian shoppers to keep their spending money in the country. Since then, it’s has grown steadily in popularity amongst Canadian consumers.

Some brands began advertising rebates as early as two weeks before Black Friday, while others have already started putting items on sale.

“It makes it harder to schedule a time to study while being forced to work all weekend long.” —Leah

Concordia fine arts student, Flora Tran, said this year is less stressful for her. “It’s right when all of your assignments are due and the start of finals. For me, Black Friday this year is the last day of school, so it’s not as stressful as it is for others who have class next week.”

For most stores, Black Friday is one of a few ‘blackout days’ that retailers block off, meaning no employees get the day off. Some work until after midnight, cleaning up after a day of heavy shopper traffic.

Analyssa Paraskevopoulos, assistant manager at Artizan, a clothing boutique in the West Island, said that Black Friday can be a lot to handle, even if everyone works together.

Quebec consumers are expected to spend the most money in the country on Black Friday. Photo Sheena Macmillan

“It’s every retail salesperson’s worst nightmare. It’s crazier than Boxing Day,” Paraskevopoulos said.

“We all have our stations, and if we stick to it, the day should go smoothly. But you need to work as a team if you want to have a successful workday,” she said.

Paraskevopoulos also advises, “Just be patient and remember to breathe. You’re human and can only do one thing at a time.”

Many stores also open early for Black Friday, meaning staff need to be ready to open the doors much earlier than usual. Many stores open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m., to accommodate those who are finishing work late.

Projections for this Black Friday are that Canadians are expected to add $29.5 billion to the economy. Compared to the rest of Canada, Quebecers are expected to spend the most during the sale season.

Only time will tell if retailers see the uptick they’re hoping for just under a month before the holiday season.

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