The Sales’ Associate’s Guide to Surviving Black Friday

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Carefully folded piles of sweaters thrown without a care. Electronics flung here and there. Customers camping out in the cold night air. All of this chaos at 2 am.


Black Friday is a sales associate’s worst nightmare. You spend the whole day (or night-time – let’s be real) running around finding things for angry people, ringing up impatient customers, scrambling to put the store back in order, and maybe even taking some verbal harassment. It’s not fun. At least, not usually.

As a sales associate who worked Black Friday for years, I have developed a survival guide for everyone working on the floor during the yearly chaos. Trust me, you CAN get through this. You might even have a little fun. And you’re guaranteed to see some crazy stuff. Just use my tricks.

1. Train for Black Friday like Amtrak.

Black Friday is the Superbowl of shopping days. Do you think that Peyton Manning would show up to the Superbowl without training for months? Even Tom Brady at least deflates the balls beforehand to give his team an edge. So there’s no reason you shouldn’t be training for your big day either.

  • Make sure to eat lean meats and vegetables for the month preceding. Preferably only chicken and green beans. They’re power foods or something.
  • Run 12 miles a day. Remember: retail is a sprint, and a marathon, so do the 12 miles at full pace with small bursts of walking to create an accurate Black Friday-like experience. Include pauses for squatting and jumping to improve your shelving skills. Continually move your fingers to improve dexterity for ringing up customers quickly and efficiently.

Training like this will ensure you’re at the top of your game and can keep up with the madness.

2. Carbo-load on Thanksgiving.

Every athlete eats a ton of carbs the day before their big event to make sure their body has all the right fuel in it to stay energized. Stay away from the turkey and go big on stuffing, potatoes, and pie.

3. Take breaks.

It’s a rough day. Work breaks will keep you sane. Make sure to fully utilize your legally mandated 15 or 30 minute break. You completely deserve it. Also, as I’m sure you’re aware, if you need breaks other than the legally required one, don’t be afraid to go search for something in the back, and take a breather while you’re back there. Three deep breaths while standing still will do wonders.

3. Bring snacks and caffeine.

The only thing worse than working Black Friday is working Black Friday hangry. Trust me, I’ve been there. Bring in your Thanksgiving leftovers so you can grab a bite any time you’re hungry. At my store, we all used to bring in our leftovers and do a potluck. This made Black Friday so much better and gave everyone a chance to try each other’s recipes.  

Also, bring coffee. You’re probably scheduled for a nightmare shift like 12am-7am, meaning you’re not really going to get any sleep before doing constant physical labor. Keep that energy level high and crash when you get home.

4. Map out all of the exits in your store.

In case of extreme emergency, you need to have an exit strategy or three. Make sure you know where every exit is in your store and how to get to each one. Spend some time on a slow day timing yourself to discover the fastest routes.

5. Let it go. Let it go. You’re one with the chaos inside. (You can’t hold it back anymore.)

Let’s face it. You’re going to spend hours making sure that the merchandise is beautiful – stacked perfectly, folded angelically, and color coordinated – and precisely 4 seconds after your doors open on Black Friday, all that product is going to be in a giant confused heap. I get how much that hurts your heart. I’ve been there. I once had caution tape ready to place around a table before my manager called me off.

Instead of angrily yelling at customers to leave the sweaters alone, or crying in an empty aisle about it, take a few deep breaths and walk away. Remind yourself that Wanda who you don’t like anyway is coming in on the closing shift and will probably be the one to deal with the sweater disaster.

6. Practice coping techniques to keep up morale.

Black Friday is filled with totally crazy shoppers, technology that quits working, and hours (upon hours) of cleanup. It’s everything awful about working retail mashed into one day, so you have to be ready with techniques to help you stay calm. My favorite technique was to imagine that I was writing a Buzzfeed listicle about the insanity that happens on Black Friday. That way, when something terrible happened, I’d just file it away as fodder for my article. Customer insists on having every member of her family purchase one item for her so she can utilize a “One Item per Purchase” coupon? Perfect for my listicle! Point of sale system chooses to take 5 minutes plus each to ring every single customer for three hours? This article is going to be hilarious and so relatable.

That’s just my technique. You could try something like deep breathing, squeezing a stress ball, or eating your feelings.


What are your favorite techniques for surviving working Black Friday? Do you have any funny stories? Leave your thoughts in the comments below because I’d love to hear them!

Looking for Point of Sale software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Point of Sale software solutions.

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About the Author


Cara Wood

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.


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