Working in a clothes shop has brought home to me that there are different species of shoppers. Each with their own uniform and their own patterns of behaviour; here is my guide to spotting a few of them.
The bargain hunter
Comes out of hiding during sale season. She arrives prepared for a fight, elbows up ready to jab any unsuspecting person that gets between her and that half price dress. Usually found wearing previous sale discoveries, rummaging through the sale racks with an expert eye. She will come into the changing room with a mountain of clothes, dump them on you and wonder off to find more things. Not afraid to ask for help, she’ll help you out with your Christmas excess giving you a workout running up and down the stairs to find sizes for her. Finally she will choose one or two choice pieces and dump the rest on you to sort out. Don’t you know she has other sales to fight through today.
The stressed mum
Makes up a high proportion of customers over the holidays. Uniform tends to be a fleece and sensible mum jeans, usually found in the children’s wear section rifling through party dresses whilst trying to pacify a son who doesn’t want to be there and a daughter who wants everything. Will deny offers of help until the most inconvenient moment when she would like you to check several sizes in the stockroom. If she has to wait any length of time at the till, you may well feel her wrath. She’s been up since 6am, don’t expect patience.
The serious occasion wear buyer
This is a determined shopper. She has money to spend and an impending event for which she must find the perfect outfit – she won’t be leaving empty handed. Normally found in the full price section, browsing the new season items with a critical eye, glamorously dressed. She has good taste but is usually grateful for help, desperate to find the perfect dress to impress. Can often be persuaded into buying shoes, a bag and a shrug/ anything that is in season and looks good on her. Offer her good service and she will love you forever.
The filling timer
The window shopper who makes it over the threshold. This woman isn’t interested in the clothes, she swans around the shop, idly flicking through rails, looking at the odd price and raising her eyebrows before drifting to the next section. Normally dressed in clothes from another store, she doesn’t shop here. She has no intention of buying but will make every effort to act as though she could afford to purchase anything she wanted. Approach with caution; she is hard to pin down and when made contact with, will back away from any offer of help, usually before floating nonchalantly out the door – an awkward moment in the life of a sales assistant.
The nervous man
Usually to be found looking through the women’s pyjama section, especially before Christmas. He has no idea what he’s meant to be looking for and will anxiously scan the rails, puzzled by the crowds of savvy female shoppers around him, probably before settling on an oversized dressing gown if not approached. Offered help he will gratefully accept it and will buy almost anything if told it’s popular and looks good.