For cosmetics workers, of one retailer, there will be no Merry in Christmas this year


Hundreds of cosmetics employees, of one high-end retailer, arrived at work today and discovered they couldn’t afford Christmas for their families this year. Their hours had been cut by 25 percent. They were not given a reason.

According to one source, management reported that all cosmetic retailers nationwide were slashing hours. Maybe.  But maybe this retailer wants to ensure employees don’t jump ship to a competitor during the busyiest time of year.

Exactly. So why cut hours? Doesn’t it make more sense to have all hands on deck? Why reduce at a time when it inevitably means customers will receive poor service?

But those aren’t the questions corporations ask.  There’s no room for human beings here. Not customers. Not employees. Instead, it’s about corporate greed. Or as this corporation might like to think of it, cutting overhead.  Employees are your highest overhead. Cut your overhead, increase your assets. It’s as old as slavery and as new as overseas outsourcing.

If single mothers, of this retailer, planned to buy those light up kicks Tommy wants or the Hatchimals Egg Jenny desires, they’re now worrying how to keep the heat on for Christmas.

There are very few benefits to working in retail, particularly in retail cosmetics. The customers are demanding, entitled, impatient and even  abusive. Fellow co-workers are petty, back-biting, bitter and mean. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s brings some reprieve. While customers can be more difficult this time of year, longer hours means larger sales, leading to beefy commission checks. Instead, this year, employees of this luxe retailer must piece together their paid time off just to keep their health insurance.

While customers binge on bespoke lipstick collections encased in leather, employees scrape out the balances on their credit cards to pay rent. “How do people survive working here?” One asked. “My credit card has a bigger balance than my bank account and I don’t buy anything.” She’s still relatively new to retail. As one who has worked for major retailers on and off for thirteen years now, I’ve never known anything else. “People don’t survive,” I said. “They get other jobs.”

Corporations make money when employees make less. Because this retailer can’t move its stores to Mexico, they do the next best thing. Cut hours. Each year they’ve been cutting more. Employees hired at full time now work part-time when they don’t make their goals for the week. “When you make your goals, you’ll get your hours back.” Management says. Employees were notified, in a recent email, that health benefits are earned not given.

So when you go to get your makeup at a department store, have a little patience. Imagine how the girls behind the counter feel. A little empathy will go a long way this Christmas. Oh, and if they do your makeup for your holiday parties, tip them. Even if they say no. Tip them. Shove it under the mirror next to your seat. Stuff it in their hands when no one’s looking. They’re not supposed to accept it, but my guess is, they will now. It may mean they can pay for lunch that day.

9 thoughts on “For cosmetics workers, of one retailer, there will be no Merry in Christmas this year

  1. This is way too close to home for me… spent years in the retail industry where I, as a full-time employee was expected to get the same sales quota as those that worked the peak 6-9pm shift… of course in proportion to hours worked… (who cared about stock and all that boring, necessary preps?)…

    Great post. And good reminder to those that shop during this competitive season… 🙂

  2. Having worked both sides of the spectrum it is incredibly difficult. On the one hand, corporate is trying to ensure you still have a store to work at tomorrow in a time when so many huge retailers are shutting their doors. On the other hand there is a reason that retail has the highest turnover, the employees are miserable.

    Cutting hours is many times necessary, I’ve been there, on both sides. I actually had a store where Corporate had to cut my hours so much for my location to show profitable that I couldn’t afford employees at all. Instead of cutting salaries I took on the entire location alone with one assistant for quite an extended period. It was the most miserable time of my career (okay maybe there were others), but the fact remains I was stressed. There were no bonuses, until goal was met, and the compensation was well below the poverty line, because let’s face it we are in sales, our bottom line is measured by the money we can bring in.

    My issue though was why not simultaneously to cut offs offer something enticing. Give a new motivation for success. Less negative news and more positive. Why not also try to invest in a more universal and successful training of NEW tactics then the same old tired ones they repeat day after day that, obviously, are no longer working?!

    Anyway this is turning into a blog post itself. And again this is much the motivation to my post coming out this Tuesday.

    1. Oh! So great to get your perspective. It’s true that our cosmetics department has not been doing well. Sigh…our line was doing well, that’s the problem. Now we won’t have coverage for the season, and we’re a very busy line…but your idea that there should be investment in new sales training ideas is a great one.

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