Shopping habits I’ve noticed

When we go shopping, we behave in odd ways, a few that I have noticed happen repeatedly in our store.

The determined shopper vs Looking with your mouth

There are those who enter the store, head straight for the far end in search of their intended purchase with a surity that’s where they will find it, no question. Slowly, they head back towards the till area empty handed, looking keenly at every section of cards in the vain hope they will spot what they want. Some will, some will have to ask.

Then there are those who look with their mouths and not their eyes. In other words, they march into the store, straight for a member of staff, the first one they can find – I have even been accosted in my coat arriving at work, less than 30 seconds in the building – to demand where they can find X cards. They don’t want to bother looking, they just want you to show them the one section they want and that’s it.

The queue time wasters

Often the elderly but that’s not a given, mostly women. These are people who will stand in a queue, short or long, holding their purchases, totally unprepared for their interaction with the till staff. When they finally reach the till, having had plenty of time, they hand the cards over to you, wait for you to scan them and announce the total purchase price. That’s when the following happens:

they take their gloves off
try to manhandle all their other bags so they can access their handbag
realise they have to put all their other bags down on the floor
they turn to apologise to others in the queue
take ages digging out their purses
try to find you the exact change which often involves a visual count of their coins
realise they don’t have enough coinage so dig out a note
take ages putting their purse away and picking up all their other bags again

The Old Ladies

They bring a card to the counter, which has a price tag on the reverse, very clear, hand you the card and then ask you how much it is! They already know and invariably have the correct money in their hands. But still they have to ask. Bless them.

Taking and donating change

Our company supports a large national charity and on the counter we have a donation box. It is well supported by our customers and we thank them each time they donate whatever amount they choose to.

There are several types of donator: those that will empty their purse/wallet of small change whilst I am processing their purchases; those that will only donate coppers (1p and 2p pieces); those that will donate all their change from the transaction; those that don’t donate at all, and out of those, some will say “keep the change” (which doesn’t mean put it in the box) whilst others will just walk off before you’ve even manage to open the till drawer.

Those that donate their transaction change fall into two categories: “please put the change in the box” types, and those who you just know are going to donate but have to do it themselves. I don’t know if the action of putting the money in the box feels like they have personally donated or they just want to be in control.

Would you like a bag?

This has become an issue since the Govt introduced legislation forcing companies with over 250 employees to charge for bags (the ethical correctness of which is not under dispute).

Staff: “would you like a bag for these?”
Customer: “no thanks, I’ll be fine”       OR
Customer: “no thanks, I brought one with me”      OR
Customer: “no thanks” and then 30seconds later “oh maybe I will if you don’t mind” OR
Customer: “do I have to pay for it?” / “not if it’s going to cost me!”  OR
Customer: “I thought you could only charge if there were more than 250 employees”
Staff: “We have 8000 employees across the company………”.

We all knew it was going to be a difficult transition for some, but it’s been months, please get to grips with the bag thing.

Notes and Early Doors

This is probably the habit that happens far too frequently. Customers want to pay for goods within the first half hour of you opening with a £20 note.

Now of course our tills have a float in them, and I fully expect to have to give change early doors but really, handing any shop a large note first thing in the morning is almost guaranteed to wipe them out of smaller change, particularly the elusive £5 notes, at the start of the day, causing problems for the next customers.

Please don’t do it, it doesn’t foster friendliness from shop staff. In fact I have taken to refusing large notes and asking for card payments or exact change instead; as we have no minimum payment on card transactions, no one can object too much. If they do, there is a bank 30 seconds walk across the road or another bank whose ATM always gives out £5 notes 30 seconds walk up the road.

Staff in the other large chain stores adjacent to us also react the same way to this issue.

“I’m sorry I have nothing smaller”

This isn’t strictly true 8 times out of 10. Customers open their purse or wallet, investigate what they have and then hand you a £10 or £20 note for a 29pence purchase. “I’m sorry I have nothing smaller” doesn’t wash when you can see the £5 note staring at you.

“I’m sorry I have nothing smaller” invariable means “I need change for the bus or the car park”.

My Question Just Can’t Wait

You are being served having waited patiently at the till for your turn. Whilst I am having a polite interaction with you, a customer shouts over the top “can you tell me where xyz is”, without so much as a by-your-leave. There really is no excuse for being impolite. Please wait until a member of staff is free to ask questions; we are always happy to help but why should any shop staff pander to rudeness?

We are all the same

The oddest thing is that when others, who work in retail on the shop floor themselves and thus encounter these habits daily with their own customers, behave exactly the same when they are the shopper. I am no exception. Just goes to show how easy it is to swap roles. 🙄


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