Apr 26, 2023
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Most UK shoppers say retail staff make or break in-store experiences - report

Apr 26, 2023

Retail staff may not always feel valued by shoppers but new research conducted on behalf of the Retail Technology Show (which opens in London on Wednesday) shows they’re lynchpin parts of the retail experience for many consumers.

John Lewis

More than half of 1,000+ UK shoppers surveyed said retail staff now ‘make or break’ their in-store experiences, up 13 percentage points (ppts) compared to 2022. 

Some 37% says they’re now more respectful of retail staff since before the start of the pandemic, rising 3 ppts since 2022.

And importantly, as well as personally appreciating retail staff more, they like to feel those staff are well treated by their bosses. Some 34% say retailers should do more to support employees in the current economic climate. And a further 25% said retail staff should be paid more to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

It’s a tough time for retail workers with more than 15,00 retail jobs lost in the the first few months of this year, according to the Centre for Retail Research. 

But it’s interesting that, in spite of rising cost bases, many retailers are choosing to invest in recruiting and retaining talent, and are putting measures in place to help store associates in light of the rising cost-of-living, recognising the role they play in the delivery of customer service and experience. 

A number of big names have announced initiatives to support staff during the cost-of-living crisis and both Pandora and Primark have increased staff pay.

Pandora’s 14% rise announced earlier this month, was actually the third time it had improved pay in the last 12 months. Primark’s in-store teams have also had a 12% pay boost.

This matters on more than the basic level of improving staff welfare because 17% of the consumers surveyed said that how a retailer or brand supports, pays or looks after its staff impacts their decision to buy from it. Meanwhile, a further 18% said they would question their loyalty to a brand or retailer if the business wasn’t supporting its employees.

The subject is being explored further at the event with show headliner Mary Portas set to shine a light on “the role of human connectivity and the Kindness Economy in the future of retail|”, speaking on the Headline Stage on Day 2.  

She’ll “explore what the new value system of the Kindness Economy means for retailers, and their omnichannel technology roadmaps, for 2023 and beyond”.

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