Photo: @Miqyuro
lifestyle

Store staff stop talking to customers because of coronavirus; some hope change is permanent

18 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

In contrast to many other countries’ responses to the coronavirus outbreak, retail stores have largely remained open in Japan throughout the pandemic. That doesn’t mean it’s been business as usual, though, as many have implemented various countermeasures in hopes of preventing the transmission of the virus.

For the most part, these are temporary provisions that will be phased out once things get back to the old normal, but Japanese Twitter user @Miqyuro hopes that one store’s coronavirus customer service tweak becomes a permanent policy.

The in-shop sign above reads:

“In order to help prevent the spread of infection, our staff will not be actively initiating conversation with shoppers.

If you have questions, please ask one of our employees, while maintaining a physical distance.

We realize this is an imperfect solution and apologize, but we ask for your understanding in light of current conditions.”

“Please, apparel store workers, let this be permanent…,” tweeted @Miqyuro along with the photo after a May shopping trip, and a handful of commenters who’d also like to be left alone while browsing echoed the sentiment.

“I get so terrified when they ask ‘Are you looking for something?’”

“Seriously. Every time I go shopping I think to myself ‘If I need your help, I’ll ask for it.’”

“It’s a pain in the butt when they come up to you.”

“I think part of the reason people like shopping at Uniqlo is that the staff there doesn’t approach you.”

However, just as many commenters could see the other side of the issue, even if they didn’t necessarily relish the chitchat itself.

“Part of the reason we approach customers is for theft prevention [by letting them know we’re aware of them]. Please understand that it’s something we need to do if we have merchandise on display between the exit and the register.”

“I used to work in an apparel store. It’s not like running a supermarket. You need to develop relationships with repeat-business customers, and to do that it’s necessary to talk with them, learn what their needs are, and help guide them towards what they’re looking for to coordinate their outfits.”

“I’m a former apparel salesperson, and honestly the store’s sales increase when we talk to customers. It’s also an effective way of discouraging shoplifting.”

“A lot of people don’t like being approached by salespeople, but then there are also shoppers who get angry if no one offers to help them.”

So in the end, it’s unlikely that the shop @Miqyuro visited, nor many others, will continue with a “don’t speak unless spoken to” policy once the coronavirus situation settles down, so if you do prefer to shop in silence, it’s probably best to keep the phrase Daijobu desu (“I’m fine”/”I don’t need any help”) in mind when out shopping.

Source: Twitter/@Miqyuro via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese company tells worker he probably doesn’t have coronavirus, to come to work with a fever

-- J-rock star Yoshiki donates 10 million yen to coronavirus relief, asks everyone to stay home

-- Japanese revolving sushi restaurant chain stops revolving during coronavirus outbreak

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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Just shows you can't please everyone.

People complaining they cannot get service. People complaining they get too much service.

Retail employees just can't win.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

“Just looking, thanks” seem to be the hardest words... lol

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I sometimes really worry about the future of Japan. Why are there so many people that don't want to have any kind of social interaction? I wonder if there is another group of people that are so anti-social, and I wonder what has caused this?

Is it so hard just to say, " I'm just looking", or " thanks but I'm ok"!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Have already started spotted some very obvious disheveled people walking around in a daze. As humans we not only crave for but NEED the feelings of connection, reciprocity and community. Like our autonomous nervous system needs it to regulated our entire emotional and and biological state to remain functional. Not exactly know for their relaxed and warm small talk skills and sending out safety and friendly cues to strangers before the virus hit, it’s going to get 100 times worse as this thing progresses. The reserved nature of the Japanese may have helped early in the game by not spreading the disease as quickly as other nations, but there’s a slow mental health killer that could be just as deadly. Isolation and disconnection and we all know what that starts to look like after a while. Smiles with eyes people , thank yous and voice tones work even if they don’t want their staff interacting. The masks won’t be helping either. Serious concerns.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As a foreigner here, I actually like when staff talks to me about baseball or how I've been because I feel they are treating me as a human and not some alien that probably can't understand Japanese.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As a foreigner here, I actually like when staff talks to me about baseball or how I've been because I feel they are treating me as a human and not some alien that probably can't understand Japanese.

thats because It’s their job

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I often see the opposite, where customers (particularly older or elderly women -keeping it real) approach staff or other customers and just chit-chat. It was annoying before the pandemic, but now its just jeopardizing the health of others to just do needless yapping of the gums. Shop quietly and quickly -get in and get out...period.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

One thing I miss from back home is having a brief chat with the workers in stores I used to frequent. Nothing long, just "Hey, how you doing?" etc., then shoot the sh*t for a little bit while they ring up your purchase and give you your change. Here in Japan there's none of that; it's replaced with a pseudo-politeness devoid of any real sincerity. Most Japanese treat store workers like garbage anyways.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

My answer to being screamed at with "IRASSHAIMASE" is "irasshaimashita."

I could certainly do without being screamed at by every employee. I actually had a part-time job at a major so-called Super-Supermarket, and part of the training for the meat section employees was to yell out IRASSHAIMASE in order to attract customers. Or so they said. I didn't work in the meat department, so I didn't have to do it, but as a customer, that just turns me off.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Lush staffers in Japan drive me up the wall. You know how small their branches are, and yet within a couple of minutes every single staffer will have approached me to explain that I am looking at shampoo, that *this is soap, or to give me a basket. I tell each one I don't need help, but still they won't leave me alone.

I know it's store policy, and it is infuriating, to the point that I will leave the shop without buying any of the things I want to buy. If they have stopped this attack-style of sales, I might even start going back.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

My answer to being screamed at with "IRASSHAIMASE" is "irasshaimashita."

That's mairimashita to you!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“Part of the reason we approach customers is for theft prevention [by letting them know we’re aware of them]. Please understand that it’s something we need to do if we have merchandise on display between the exit and the register.”

Now THAT'S customer service! Hey man! We're watching you! Dont steal anything!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As a foreign entity, I usually have the opposite problem - finding someone to assist me...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I once bought a korokke at a nearby convenience store and a couple of years after that they yelled "Korokke is ready" or something every time I entered that store. And at clothes stores if you linger at a shelf for more than 3 minutes they come by and pretend to be folding clothes next to you. If you stop and think is a red flag for them. I don't like this being treated like a thief. They could try to be more subtle at least or is it too much to ask? Since corona started I've switched on online shopping and my customer satisfaction went up tenfold. Never ever I'm going back to brick and mortar clothes stores.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

“I get so terrified when they ask ‘Are you looking for something?’”

Seems as thought there's little hope for this one.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's a pressure tacit for the sales people to make you buy something

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The retail and service sector of Japan, where the customer is k...

Nah.......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

25+ years in Japan and I never had a problem finding someone to help if I needed. And when they did, they went out of their way to be helpful.

Plus, I never had a pushy salesperson.

Y'all must be living in a different Japan . . .

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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