Retail Workers of America, We Thank You

0 CommentBy

JLL asked shopping center retailers, “What is the craziest thing you’ve seen a customer do during the holidays?” After reviewing the responses, we wish to extend our gratitude to each and every person on the front lines of commerce. You guys put up with a lot.

Top 4 Categories of Customer Craziness

You would be forgiven if you mistook these statistics for an Alcatraz cell block report. The top responses fell within four broad categories: Fights and arguments (23%); theft and fraud (19%); and rudeness, rowdiness and cursing (17%) and excessive spending (8%).There were too many responses to list here, and frankly, some were not appropriate for publication. We’ve included a few representative examples for each major category.

BFS_FigureDrawings-051.We Wish You a Merry Confrontation

Fights and arguments were the clear leader in holiday craziness, with 23 percent of retailers indicating they’ve witnessed a brawl or two. Cutting in line was the most common cause for a fight, followed by arguing over the last of an item in the store. One pair of creative customers was caught by security fist-fighting. They claimed they were just live action role playing!

2. Been Caught Stealin’BFS_FigureDrawingsBOLD-01


Theft and fraud made up 19 percent of our responses. Simple shoplifting was popular, but many were more creative. How were they stealing?

  • Purposefully break an item to get it at a discount
  •  Roll a shopping cart full of unpaid goods out of the store
  • Pass off counterfeit money

BFS_FigureDrawings-023. A Discourteous December

Roll a shopping cart full of unpaid goods out of the store. Some holiday shoppers clearly mistook their local mall for a biker bar, with (17 percent of retailers surveyed indicating being caught up in Rude, Rowdy and Cursing, something of a catch-all for rambunctious behavior. Most Frequently Witnessed Behaviors:

  • Screaming that the lines are too long
  • Yell and curse because an item is sold out
  • Throw money, receipts or coupons in a cashier’s face
  • Knock other customers down to get to a sale item
  • Snatch merchandise out of another customer’s cart

BFS_FigureDrawings-034. In the Spending Spirit

More than eight percent of respondents reported activity that we’ve categorized as excessive spending. In some cases, shoppers are overtaken with seasonal generosity. While others just seem to be caught up in the need to get their shopping done, no matter the cost. Examples of Excessive Spending:

  • After one mall retailer closed his gate for the night, a shopper dropped $400 in cash through the gate and said “just give me something for this amount.”
  • One shopper offered to fly a retail employee to England in order to deliver a package by the next day.
  • One shopper bought small gifts for all the other customers in the store.

Further Craziness

We categorized about seven percent of the responses as “Other.” These defied categorization:

  • One customer went from store to store in a mall, collecting goods as he went. Then he tried to pay for all the goods at the last store.
  • A customer tried repeatedly to buy items in the window display that were not for sale
  • A customer climbed ladders in the store
  • Customers bought goods and then left them in the store


JLL surveyed retail tenants in shopping centers in seventeen states from September 18 through October 5, 2015.  About 50 percent of survey respondents were apparel retailers. Other major categories of respondents include Restaurant, Food and Beverage (16%) Jewelry (11%) and Luxury (7%). 69 percent of respondents were inline retail locations, 76 percent occupied stores under 5,000 square feet.


Square JameasJames D. Cook
Director of Retail Research, JLL

Download JLL’s full point of view on the trend or visit, and follow @JLLRetail on Twitter and Instagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *