Retail Employee Blunders: How to scare away business

Here is a list is all the things that retail employees should NOT DO (employee blunders). These activities will scare away business, make the store lose money, and if taken far enough, can ultimately bankrupt the small business. I have compiled this list during my many years of owning small retail establishments and also discussing small business with other entrepreneurs.

These activities can be broken down into the following categories - Wasting Time, Bad Money Handling, Laziness, Unprofessionalism, and Bad Salesmanship.

Wasting Time

Many retail employees, especially the younger ones that have never had a job before, tend to waste time at the store.

  • Taking care of personal business while on the clock
  • Talking with Friends on the phone
  • Socializing with friends in the store
  • Using the Computer for Personal Things. (i.e. Facebook, Twitter).
  • Taking super long breaks.
  • Doing Nothing.
  • Being late or leaving early. (Even 5 minutes).

Bad Money Handling

Another way that employees can hurt the bottom line is by bad money handling. This includes everything from cash register use, to making change, to taking in checks and credit cards.

  • Numbers don’t add up. Bad Arithmetic
  • Either too little or too much cash in the register after the shift is over.
  • Leaving the register with no change for the next employee.
  • Forgetting to hit the sales tax button on the register.
  • Accepting counterfeit money.
  • Taking checks without getting personal information from the customer.
  • Not knowing what to do with credit cards if the power goes out.


Some employees are lazy. They don't want to go out of their way to do the grunt work. This affects employee morale and eventually hurts sales.

  • Not cleaning up messes. Even if the employee did not make them!
  • Not vaccuming, windexing, or dusting.
  • Not setting the alarm when leaving the store.
  • Not sweeping the front porch.
  • Not filing away merchandise.
  • Not emptying the trash.
  • Not locking the door when leaving.
  • Not turning off the air conditioner when leaving.


Unprofessionalism comes in many different faces. Basically, an employee is being unprofessional when he is more concerned about himself than about the retail business he is working at.

  • Being mean to customers.
  • Allowing friends to sit behind the counter.
  • Badmouthing other employees, other stores, or customers in front of other customers.
  • Not reading the emails/bulletins from superiors.
  • Not resolving customer complaints. Always passing the buck.
  • Listening to music with swear words in them.
  • Not communicating effectively with superiors.
  • Giving friends a better discount just because they are your friends.
  • Stealing from the store.
  • Not watching customers. Allowing them to shoplift.
  • Hanging out at the store when it’s not the employee's shift.
  • Leting customers bring in food and drink in the store.

Bad Salesmanship

Good Salesmanship helps customers fulfill their needs. Bad Salesmanship makes customers leave the store disappointed and empty handed.

  • Making customers upset so that they leave the store angry.
  • Not greeting every person that comes into the store
  • Not asking customers if they need help
  • Talking too much. Not listening to the customer.
  • Not telling people about promotions
  • Not asking people for their email addresses.
  • Not cross-selling
  • Not upselling.

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Comments 2 comments

RetailPrincess profile image

RetailPrincess 6 years ago

Most of that my naive sir comes along with any entry level job. Hate to break it to you but if you're not paying me above 8 bucks an hour we are not motivated at all to be professional 24/7, at all times. Quit dreaming and step into the real world, you know the one where people aren't robotic sales hounds. Chillax dude. Seriously.

MickyD profile image

MickyD 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California Author

RetailPrincess: Just wanted to follow up on your comment. You obviously feel that I was being a little heavy handed in this post. The only response that I can make is that these "blunders" are what I've seen in my 25 years work experience - first as a sales clerk, then as a manager, and then as the owner of a small retail business. In my opinion, people should try to do the best job that they can ... no matter their pay scale or position.

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