My 74-year-old mother Sofi had a knock-down-drag-out with a customer at a dollar store in Queens yesterday.
It all started when she mistakenly took the male patron, who was in his late 60s, for a dollar store employee because he appeared to be rearranging items on a shelf.
“Do you work here?” my mom asked innocently.
“NO,” the customer shouted. “Do I look like I work here?”
He said this within earshot of a few actual employees of the store who were gathering now because everyone likes to watch two old people fight.
Despite the entertainment value, this encounter points to an interesting phenomenon in this country — the I’m-too-good-to-be-working-in-retail mentality. Even people who hold retail jobs often disparage the gigs.
But in this economy, and in the years ahead, some of the biggest job growth is expected to be in these derided retail positions.
“Retail salespersons and cashiers were the two largest occupations in May 2009, representing nearly 1 out of every 17 jobs,” according to the Department of Labor.
And, the stats show, while so many occupations are shrinking in numbers, retail jobs are expected to grow by 8 percent through 2018.
“Given the size of this occupation, about 374,700 new retail salesperson jobs will arise over the projections decade—more jobs than will be generated in almost any other occupation,” noted a DOL report.
Whether you view them as survival jobs while you’re between gigs in the profession you’re proud of, or you support yourself and your family with such work for decades, we all may have to start feeling a bit better about the retail ranks.
So what is it about retail jobs, especially those at discount stores, that garners such disdain? (more…)