Ngoc Minh Ngo

10 a.m.

Arrive with your what-was-I-thinking sweater within the first hour a store is open. Workforces are leaner these days, but “retailers still need enough staff to open up, so that may be when they have the best ratio of staff to customers,” says Edward Fox, director of Southern Methodist University’s JCPenney Center for Retail Excellence, in Dallas. It may also be the only time all day when staff are at assigned posts, “so you can usually get someone to help,” notes former fashion stylist Linda Arroz, who spent years returning things she didn’t end up using for movies and TV shows. Fox adds that “the most experienced people get the best hours, so they will be working the day shift.” Finally, consider customer flow. “A city store may be busier during weekday lunch hours, a suburban store on weekend afternoons,” says Target spokesperson Lena Michaud.

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