The Holiday Season, According to Retail & Hospitality Workers

by Deputy Team, 4 minutes read
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It’s the merriest time of the year! The holiday season is that special time of year when streets twinkle with lights, and the air is filled with a mix of excitement and the scent of festive treats. But beyond the glitter and festivities, the holiday season can also create added pressure for employees to meet increased demands nationwide. 

At Deputy, we know how critical the holiday season is for retail and hospitality businesses. That’s why we wanted to go straight to the source, the employees themselves, to find out how this time of year impacts their work life. We also wanted to know how consumers feel about this extra busy time of year. Do their perceptions align with how the employees feel? 

From additional hours to increased demands to dealing with holiday shoppers, our survey dives into the lesser-seen aspects of the holiday rush. Read on to see what we found! 

Employee Perspectives on the Holidays

A mere 29% of employees believe their companies are adequately staffed for the holiday rush. This understaffing issue ties in with a notable 16.6% drop in job satisfaction among employees during this period, illustrating a strained workforce.

Financially, the season offers a silver lining for employees: there's an average increase of $220.66 in weekly earnings. However, the financial benefit is a double-edged sword, as it comes with increased workloads and operational challenges. This boost in pay is often attributed to longer working hours and extra overtime pay. Employees also face a significant 84% surge in-store foot traffic during this time of year. 

Recognition from employers and benefits are crucial factors in job satisfaction, especially during the high-pressure holiday season. When asked about the best forms of recognition from employers, 36.2% of employees mentioned monetary rewards. Similarly, when it comes to benefits, 39.1% prefer bonuses or time off

Verbal affirmation is also heavily appreciated. Countless employees expressed the impact of simple compliments from both managers and customers. Here’s a snapshot of what people had to say about how they like to be recognized for doing a good job: 

  • I like to receive verbal affirmation, and also written rewards, any sort of accolade I like

  • Words of affirmation; being told I'm doing a good job and specifics of how 

  • Just a simple 1-1 moment complimenting my work 

  • People being kind and saying kind things/showing appreciation for my effort 

  • Verbal praise and small tokens of appreciation 

Nearly half of the employees (65%) mention that enhanced patience, understanding, and kindness from customers can improve their work experience, likely due to the fact that a staggering 92.5% feel that customers are less patient during the holiday season. 

Despite the frustrations from employees, only 30.5% of customers feel that they are less patient while shopping during the holiday season. 

Consumer Holiday Habits: A State-by-State Look

The jury may be still out on customer patience, but one thing’s for sure: spending spikes this time of year. 

On average, consumers spend about $129.51 per shopping trip during the holiday season, accumulating to an annual total of approximately $1,240.51. Between stocking up on gifts, purchasing decorations, and partaking in seasonal festivities, it’s no surprise that expenses add up. 

But this ranges drastically. For instance, Rhode Island spends the least during the holiday season — $643.78 on average. Rhode Island is just one of three states spending an average of $700 or less. 

Mississippi, on the other hand, emerges as a state with the highest average holiday spending, where residents spend a substantial $2,472.76 each year. Interestingly, Mississippians also rate themselves as the least patient shoppers, with only 59.2% considering themselves more patient during the holiday season. 

Minnesota stands out for its patient shoppers, with a remarkable 84.8% of Minnesotans considering themselves more patient while engaging in holiday shopping. They also spend the second least overall ($663.80 on average), emphasizing the correlation between reduced spend and increased patience.

Closing Thoughts

During the holiday season, it's essential to acknowledge and express gratitude to the dedicated shift workers who keep our communities thriving. These individuals are unsung heroes of the retail and hospitality sectors, working tirelessly to ensure our holiday experiences are joyful and seamless. 

As businesses navigate the complexities of the holiday season, effective scheduling and management become paramount. Deputy is here to keep your workplace feeling merry and bright  – offering a robust and intuitive scheduling solution that can adapt to the dynamic needs of the busy season. Explore our solutions today and transform the way you manage your holiday season operations.


Our research was performed in October/November of 2023. The industry insights come from a survey of 500+ employees who currently work in the retail or hospitality industry. In addition, we surveyed 2,100+ consumers across the nation. The following states were omitted due to insufficient sample sizes include: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. The holiday season was defined as the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.