Retail Commercial Property Staff Get a Lesson in Tact

Posted on 11 May, 2012 by Kirsten Kennedy

Retail commercial properties have been slammed by a recent study conducted by Weight Watchers, who claim that 34 per cent of women questioned had been made to feel so insecure by a shop assistant that they left the store without purchasing a single item. In response to this, Weight Watchers and Debenhams plan to team up to train staff members how to give advice positively rather than negatively.

The study revealed that a third of women shoppers became anxious when faced with a shop assistant, in case they proved to be “pushy, unhelpful and made comments about a customer’s size.” Additionally, 40 per cent claimed that a large percentage of shop assistants they come into contact with on a regular basis were “unsupportive and unhelpful.”

Size also proved to be a sticking point for unsatisfied customers of retail commercial properties nationwide. While only 8 per cent of size ten women surveyed admitted to having felt overweight or body conscious as a result of a comment by a shop assistant, this figure rose dramatically as sizes increased. In fact, it had quadrupled by the time size 20 women were questioned.

A member of Weight Watchers said; “I’ve had enough of skinny, clueless shop assistants who don’t have the first idea about what it feels like to go clothes shopping when you’re overweight.

“I need real advice on what works and what doesn’t and I don’t seem to get that anywhere.”

This statement echoes the fact that over 70 per cent of the women who participated in the survey experienced negative thoughts about their body when clothes shopping. The figure increased, however, when the answers of the sizes 14 and 16 were collated – 80 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

This seems particularly worrying, considering size 14 – 16 is the UK national average for women’s sizes.

It seems, then, that retail commercial properties must undertake some training when it comes to tactless staff members, especially if they wish to survive through the double-dip recession Britain has found itself in.

And it has been proven time and time again that retail commercial properties enjoy more success when their staff proves particularly helpful to the consumers filling their stores. John Lewis, for example, is regularly praised for its customer service, and as such has enjoyed many years of commercial success. In fact, it was recently voted number one for customer satisfaction in Verdict Research’s retail poll.


Retail commercial properties, when attempting to combat lower customer interest due to having less disposable income, may do well to pay attention to the study’s results. It could prove to be a shrewd business move and earn a lot of money. Perhaps they could even set up an initiative similar to the Debenhams/Weight Watchers collaboration to ensure the staff in their commercial properties have the skills to interact with customers in a positive manner.

Presenter of TV show Plain Jane and Weight Watchers style consultant Louise Roe proved to be an enthusiastic advocate of the training scheme. She said; “These unfortunate experiences show how necessary training schemes like ours are.

“It will help assistants by suggesting new, positive ways to advise customers trying on clothes in an empathetic and constructive way so that they enjoy their shopping experience.

“It’s a win, win situation. A happy customer is more likely to return and they are also more likely to make a purchase if they think that the person serving them actually cares about how they look and feel in an outfit.”

Do you regularly feel uncomfortable due to a shop assistant in a retail commercial property? Alternatively, are you a shop assistant who wishes to respond to this article? Join the debate on Movehut’s Facebook page!




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