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Why aren’t retail stores making more of an effort to sell?

I’ve been in a couple of retail outlets over the past few days and am taken aback by how little effort is put into either selling or upselling. I’m taken aback because we here so much about recessionary times and how hard the retail sector has been hit. This is a bit of a long post as I’m going through the scenarios. Here’s what I’m talking about:

On the way home from work yesterday I went in to Elverys and Halfords. I was on my bike so in my cycling gear, carrying my helmet and pannier. There used to be a cycling section in Elverys but that seems to have disappeared. I didn’t need anything per se but was keeping an eye out for some padded shorts, cycling gloves and leggings for jogging/under my cycling overtrousers. So, I had a discretionary budget in mind of 50-75. I could only see one other customer in the store (doing gait analysis with a member of staff), one other staff member was on the shop floor briefly before joining another at the checkout and there was a security guard tidying up a jacket that was off its hanger and hung in the wrong place. I wandered around looking at the gloves they had and trying to see if they had a cycling specific section. Didn’t find anything and no one came near me – the only person who seemed like they wanted to help was the security guard. He looked like someone on the verge of asking ‘are you looking’ for something but I guess assumed it wasn’t his place as there were ‘sales’ staff around. I left and opted for Halfords. Found some padded cycling shorts there and went to pay. Another customer was also waiting to pay and the staff member told them they could pay downstairs (I think he may have been in the middle of selling a bicycle). So I followed that customer downstairs. The checkout desks are at the front of the shop and were unmanned. We waited a couple of minutes and then spotted a staff member at the counter at the back of the store. When I got there another staff member appeared and asked me if I needed help – I said I just needed to pay for the shorts. He brought me back to the front of the store where he took a couple of minutes to get logged into the POS/till. My issue here is that they made it hard to complete the sale. It would’ve been a lot easier to buy online – but we’re supposed to make the effort of supporting local shops (which I do believe strongly in). This morning I went for a haircut, it’s a barber shop I’ve never been in before and they do various things like hot towel shaves and piercings (!). In the chair beside me was a guy getting a hot towel shave; the shop advertises a haircut and hot towel shave for 25. Great job on my haircut but what surprised me was that they didn’t try to upsell the offer. I generally don’t shave during the week as my skin gets irritated when I’m cycling so I looked in real need of a shave. Haircut was 14 and upselling would potentially have doubled, effectively, that take to 25. Final scenario was a visit to Petworld for cat litter. The shop was busy and a member of staff on the floor came to open a second POS/till. The staff member I paid said three things; 1) Sorry for the delay, 2) Thanks for waiting and 3) Was there anything you couldn’t find? Courtesy and making sure a potential sale wasn’t left behind.

These all seem like simples sales skills? Sure, none of them were big money and I’m not looking for people to fall over themselves – I’m not looking to cash in on recession and demand that I be indulged.

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