Retail is revolting, high streets are horrendous and shopping is a shocking pain in the purse!
House of Fraser are just one of many retailers going down the tube, with stores closing and punters flying out of the doors. They blame the internet, they blame Brexit. Really? Couldn’t it be attributed to appalling, couldn’t-care-less service, buying policies which fail to mirror demand and staff who would prefer to discuss the latest details of Love Island with their colleague than bother to help us to shop?
Standing in Zara, Wednesday early afternoon. A busy Central London store, there are a bank of five tills, with only one manned. There are 12 people queuing, the staff don’t care and don’t acknowledge us. Audible tuts from the queue, huffs and sighs, with the odd ‘WTF’ escaping from pursed lips, as we get hot under the collar, and increasingly hacked off, at the lack of customer care. I would like to report this as a one off but it’s not. I rely on Zara for my staple wardrobe and it’s something I have come to accept as a lesson in patience and calm….. Who needs meditation when you have the challenge of Zara Zen?
In Zadig & Voltaire, Westfield I asked four times to see t-shirts in pink. She insisted there was only one design available. Luckily I know their stock better than the Assistant and eventually tracked down the other five designs myself. They were all on the shop floor.
In Reiss I asked the ‘sales’ girl if the frock was silk. Her English was terrible, she had no idea what I was talking about. Eventually I gave up and left, it was safer for both of us.
Which, at this point, leads me to confess I am not the most patient of people. I love clothes but I loathe High Street shopping. Selfridges Private Shopping is an exception. Here they dish out champagne and expensive nuts in luxurious surroundings, bring a personal runner to fetch and find to your hearts desire, whilst The Stylist schmoozes with you and your guests. It’s all gloriously calm, stylish and a lot of fun. The Stylists tend to stay for years and get to know your passions.
By the time you walk through the in-door the right sized clothes, along with a plethora of dangling designer labels, are hanging in waiting, with accessories to match. It’s amazing but also requires a Valium and warrior woman courage to decipher the stock codes from prices and silence the credit card screams! There’s a minimum spend of £2k, it’s all too easy to go way over! But having said all of that, if I am going somewhere fabulous and need to rock the show, it’s pretty unbeatable! So there is an alternative to the shoddy shopping experience being dished out by the main retailers – but it’s guaranteed to break the bank.
It’s time the high streets stopped behaving like victims and upped their game. Going through badly laid out clothes racks reminds me of the old charity shops, before Ms Mary Portas got her paws and TV crew on the job. No moth ball aroma’s but dishevelled, uninviting and not much style with a smile.
The changing cubicles warrant a mention too, I’m tiny but unable to move in most. We are usually restricted to a small number of items and have to get dressed and re-queue to start the process if we want to try on more. I’ve stopped trying on but now buy and return.
Buying cosmetics is a nightmare. I can’t remember the last time Armani had the lipsticks and foundations I want in stock.
What’s the point of having them out on display and whining “Not in stock, they always sell out so quickly.”? Well there’s the clue, buy more in!
And why oh why do you have to turn the thermometers up so high to get us sweating like barmy beavers?
In Louis Vuitton, to buy a special handbag, I was told I was 11th in the queue. No seat, no apology but a simple assumption that I am going to stand around like a needy numpty. I’m not! (In all honesty I did buy the bag but waited until I went to The Airport where the stores have space, lots of staff and air con!)
So dear retailers, you can site the internet, Brexit, or the looming recession a the reason for your woes – all of which are fair game. Just like any other industry you have an opportunity to think outside of the box and lure customers in! You can continue to focus on the ‘plight of the high street’ or you can sit up, take stock and take action. The public are spending money with the shops who’re getting it right.
I don’t want to be served by people who suck their teeth and roll their eyes. I am not interested in queuing for an hour because you can’t manage your staff shifts. Nor do I want to rummage through racks of disheveled clothing that would be better placed in a good old fashioned jumble sale!
John Lewis, thank god have kept their standards. Sadly a woefully safe range when it comes to fashion ….but they know what they do well and we love them for it! Nothing’s too much trouble! Harrods are pretty good too and Victoria Secrets seem to understand the importance of service with a smile.
The competition is heavy, the market is packed but unless we want to see more of our high streets become bleak and dismal shut down shows, the stores must take action. No matter what business we’re in, we can expect hefty competition, we must keep ahead of the curve and ensure customer care is phenomenal. Sitting in ivory towers, with a victim vibe, won’t get anybody anywhere.