Uniforms could drive up retail sales

Smarter uniforms in the British retail industry could drive sales figures upwards as workers now want to dress to impress to save their jobs and increase sales because of the economic climate, according to the latest research.


With global uncertainty impacting UK jobs across a wide range of sectors, dressing to create the right impression with customers and colleagues is one area where individuals can influence the outcome, according to 85 per cent of retail staff in a survey of 13,000 workers across the UK from workwear specialists, Alexandra.


Employees representing 20 business sectors, including retail, were asked questions set by a team of psychologists. The underlying theme of the study suggests that looking and working smarter is the ‘attire of adversity’ with almost a fifth of those polled saying that a more ‘uniform’ approach will help them increase sales and win new business in difficult times.


More than two thirds (71 per cent) of employees in the retail sector said they felt more like part of a team whilst wearing a uniform, and consequently more confident when undertaking their duties.


Unemployment is currently running at 2.57 million – one million of whom are under 21, the highest figures since 1984 and likely to get worse during the economic downturn. According to the Chartered Management Institute, 48 per cent of all businesses made redundancies during 2011.


“Austerity is now manifesting itself in our attitude to work and what we expect from our workers in terms of what they look like and how they feel about themselves and their long-term job security,” said Nick Acaster, marketing director of Alexandra workwear who is himself a qualified psychologist.


“First impressions have always mattered, but they seem to matter more in these difficult economic times. The way we dress is a significant trigger to how we may perform and how we are perceived in terms of professionalism and trustworthiness. Those who look and feel ‘the business’ are more likely to perform well and be more attractive to prospective customers,” he said.


More than 90 per cent argued that what a person is wearing determines how professional and trustworthy they look, while almost 40 per cent said ‘scruffy clothing’ in the work environment impacted performance.


Research using photographic comparisons reveals a staggering 96 per cent chose the worker wearing the smart work wear over the casual dress as a signal of ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘professionalism’.


The other key factor of trustworthiness was time-keeping with 92 per cent of respondents saying that tardiness was a turn-off.


“We are seeing businesses being proactive in safeguarding their futures and many of them see a smart appearance as a good place to start.  Casual dress is still out there in some areas but at the moment there is a trend for it to be something for the weekend only in many work environments,” adds Acaster.


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