• Facing the January Sales: how to make sales assistants fall in love with you…

    It's that wonderful (?) time of the year again. The January sales have hit in full force and despite the usual Christmas overspend, shoppers are still coming out to snap up bargains in the sales. 
    I've yet to brave my home town shopping centre yet, due to being on the other side of the till point since Christmas (oh the joys of post-Christmas overtime) but I thought I'd lend a helpful hand to my fellow bargain hunters and offer some tips that will not only make the lives of a sales assistants around the country so much easier but may work in your favour too...

    #1.Don't make a mess in our office.
    For us sales assistants, the store is our workplace. I once joked to my colleague, after she commented that I my outfit looked more formal than usual, that the shop floor is our office. Now consider this, if that's the case, how would you like us to go round to your work space and start flinging reports and stationary around? Not very nice right? Well, that's what happens when you drop clothes on the floor or fling shoes in some wayward direction, that's effectively what you're doing to our workspace. 
    I hate having a messy desk when I'm trying to do Uni work and it's generally the same when I'm at my part-time job too. I try to be as tidy as possible around the till point, but when I spy a fallen hanger or clothes piling up underneath a stand I get that itch to tidy it [I know for a fact I'm not the only sales assistant who shudders at the sight of piles of unfolded clothes in Primark lol]. Taking a second to pick up a hanger makes our jobs so much easier.
    And if you're really opposed to helping us out, consider it your good Samaritan deed to a fellow shopping who may not have found that top had you not picked it off the ground in the first place.    

    #2.Check out returns policies before you venture out.
    If there's one thing I dread the most while manning the till it's getting a customer who is completely clueless about the process of returning an item...then proceeds to shout in your face that they're right and you're wrong, and then you tell them it's printed on the receipt. 
    Every store in the UK should have a returns policy and pretty much every big chain from Primark to All Saints will have their policy printed on the receipt. 
    Save yourself the trouble at the till point and take two seconds to scan that little bit of paper before you head out to the shopping centre. Or even better, ask the shop assistant before you buy the item. 
    Terms and conditions are also on company websites, which will also go into detail about potential differences in policies for marked-down and full price items, as well as Internet returns. I also love love love people who have all their receipts too!

    #3.A smile goes a long way.
    A smile is the simplest thing in the world. There's nothing more depressing when you try to smile at a customer when you're trying to be friendly for once and they ignore you or even worse...frown back. Right there and then you change the mood in an instant. It takes less muscles in your face to make a smile, plus you're the one who gets to go shopping all day while we're working hard to keep your retail therapy experience running as smooth as possible. 
    This is particularly true at the till point. I challenge you, the next time a weary shop assistant calls you to their station...greet them with a 'Hello'/'Good morning/afternoon' and smile. If they then pursue a conversation, talk back politely, they may even ask how your day was, make a little joke, offer to find those 30length jeans you were pining after in the window. See where I'm going here? 
    Some of the best and most notable customers I've had have been polite, have smiled and kept the conversation light. I've actually been wiling to go look for things myself if they're that nice. Now I know this isn't completely one sided, believe me I've been served by some miserable mugs in my time, but a smile never hurt anyone!

    #4.Use your brain.
    Picture the scene...a large clothing store just after Christmas, packed with customers, a till queue that runs to the back wall, the whole place looking like a bomb site, changing rooms just as packed as the shop floor, sales assistants running around trying to keep everything in order or marking down stock...and you walk up to one such worker with a dress with a big red slash mark through the price that says '£10' and ask "Is this in the sale?"....seriously I've had this conversation.
    I know I may be preaching to the converted, but is it that hard to use your brain when you shop. If you find an item of clothing in the sales rack with no tag or price? Fair enough? If you find that item with no tag or price on it and there are 15 others on another rack? Not so much. The week after Christmas is usually the busiest time of year for stores and though staff will answer you as politely as they can 'yes that dress is £10, there's a few more over here', we don't like to state the obvious over and over again.

    #5.'Yes, that is ALL the stock we have'
    I may be letting you in a little trade secret, but after Christmas some stores stock rooms can look a little glum. Once Boxing Day is in sight retailers will already have worked out what products are being marked down and alot of the Autumn/Winter stock will be in it. This will be boots, winter gear like coats and scarves and festive party-wear, which happens to have taken up a lot of space in said stock room for a good few months. 
    Which probably means that the top you're after in a size 10 probably went a few months ago. 
    This may be a little different for larger commercial chains or higher end stores like All Saints or shoes shops like Schue or Office but a sale is made up of left overs. It's stock that didn't sell too well so the price has gone down and the most popular sizes will go first. 
    This, again depends on the area you're shopping in. Student populated areas will most likely have few size 6-12's, residential areas with older shoppers may have less 12-14's. So unless your existence depends on you owning that size 10 top, there's not much use asking the shop assistant if there's another one upstairs. 
    You're wasting their time trying to find this non-existent top and you're wasting time that can be used finding an even more amazing bargain in the sale.  

    #6.Have a little heart.
    As I've said previously in this post, January sales time can be an extremely stressful and pressurised environment for staff. We're all human aren't we? Work doesn't come without a little frustration and this is most definitely the case with sales staff. 
    We deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of different people everyday. Some are wonderful, some are fine to deal with and some can be downright horrible. But we deal with it all the same, just like you would in the office. 
    So before you snap at a tired looking sales assistant who is exasperatedly calling for their manager because you won't co-operate spare a small thought for them. Remember, you're the one who gets to shop all day while they work. 
    This tip goes hand in hand with tip #3, it's a two way relationship, the nicer you are to us the nicer we'll be to you.

    Hope this helps a little. Again, I know that I'm most likely preaching to the converted but do pass these little tips onto family and friends. Or even better, set the example yourselves and let them see what glowing service you get when you throw a little compassion to the lowly sales assistant. 
    And if you're a sales assistant yourself, let me know what other tips you'd love to give to customers that will make your life and their much easier during the sales period.