OUR large stores claim that times are hard because their sales are down.

In large part this is down to the fact that, by definition, they are not 'selling' anything. I recently spent time in a number of large stores, two in town and three out of town. In not one of them did anyone come up and speak to me.

Many years ago, as a young man, I worked in retail and learned one very important lesson. It was just before closing time and I had been given an unpleasant cleaning up job. A lady came into the shop looked around and was unable to find either what she wanted or someone to help her. So she left. A few minutes later, the manager who had been serving another customer, came over and asked me if I had seen the lady come in. I had to admit that I had. I also had to admit that I had kept my head down.

His tirade was lengthy but what I learned was that the purpose of a shop was to sell things and that the customers paid our wages. And, that the staff are responsible for these things happening.

He also believed that nobody goes into a shop unless they are interested in the goods on display. It is the job of the sales staff to convert that interest into a sale. I was taught many ways of approaching a customer and, based on this knowledge, had an outstanding sales record.

The evidence suggests that selling skills are no longer taught or practised in today's stores. This is a large contributor to the decline in sales. Surely this is a 'self- inflicted wound'. Possible fatal.


Branksome Wood Road, Bournemouth