TOUGH SERVICE: Australians have a reputation for a friendly, “no worries, mate” attitude. But according to some new consumer research, things aren’t quite so chipper back home on the shop floor. Forty-four percent of respondents to Synovate Retail Performance’s “How Do We Shop” Australian survey, which is due to be published next month, blamed either rude or pushy retail staff for undermining their shopping experience, with a further 22 percent complaining about lazy staff. According to one surveyed shopper, “The service in Australian shops is awful. Often the shop assistants are talking to each other and completely ignore customers or there just aren’t enough staff to assist.”

No surprises here for Melbourne bride-to-be Keara O’Neil, who famously went shopping for bridesmaids dresses with her three girlfriends in September at the Gasp clothing store on Chapel Street, only to be insulted twice — first verbally by a shop assistant and then again later in writing by a Gasp area manager, after O’Neil e-mailed a formal complaint. The story exploded on social media and made international headlines.

This story first appeared in the December 27, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

When asked what changes they would make to improve Australian shopping, 13 percent of the “How Do We Shop” respondents suggested lower prices and 11 percent, greater online choice. Others recommended more flexible/later trading hours, separate shopping times for children and teenagers and even a total weekend or afternoon ban on kids. The survey found that the average shopping time in Australia is two to three hours and the most visited retail outlets are clothing shops, which is in line with similar findings from other markets.

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