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Poor service costs shops £4.2bn

UK fashion retailers could be losing out on sales worth £4.2 billion because of poor customer service, research has found.

Poorly trained shop assistants are failing to target shoppers who need help, and are even annoying some customers into leaving the store, according to a study by consultancy Envision Retail.

Retailers are also failing to encourage customers to try on garments in fitting rooms, where 70% of shoppers are converted to buyers.

The research shows that shop assistants who approach seven customers in every 100 could increase sales by 7% if they approached four more customers, rising to 11% if shoppers are encouraged to try garments on.

"Shop assistants suffer a fear of rejection, and it's easier to get an armful of stock and stand with your back to a customer," said Envision managing director Jason Kemp. He has devised a system to enable staff to improve sales, which puts shoppers into five categories, each of which requires different type of assistance.

- For more on the research, see news analysis on page 10.

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