Mary Portas – Secret Shopper Jan20


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Mary Portas - Secret Shopper

Mary is back and instead of improving one off unique boutiques, she has her eye set on the high street and the vacuous hole that many chain stores and ‘fast fashion’ have been creating.

This is a subject that is very close to my heart. My world of work began in retail, a fantastic charity shop took me on once a week, which led to a much longer period with D2 where I travelled to the lofty heights of Supervisor. University beckoned and it was the customers and stock rooms of USC that helped me earn enough money to get me through my degree. To some retail is silly and flippant, something you do to waste some time on a Saturday. To me it is genuinely important and as it is the UK’s largest past time we should expect that bit extra for our pennies. It has made me sad to see the rise  of sales figures and percentages over repeat customers and their satisfaction.

This is exactly how Mary feels. With two key ideas for the high street, to empower the sales assistants so they feel motivated and to add a theme park element to shopping to make it and experience for the shopper. If you watched  ’Mary Queen Of Shops’ (and if you didn’t,  I require a written explanation of why not) you will pretty much know the drill as Mary has  chosen one of the smaller chains which of course is run by the usual pseudo masculine vertically challenged male who feels he knows better than Portas but eventually caves when Portas is proved right.

A Twitter camera, remodelled fitting room and a trip to Leon later and Mary has weaved her magic into one store but I am left curious about what is next. One of the most disheartening elements of working in retail is rude customers. Portas has a background in higher end stores where the customer expects to be looked after. On the High Street everything moves at a quicker pace and more often than not people simply want to grab what they need and go and they see sales assistants as an obstacle to get around. After a few hours of saying hello to people and receiving blank looks, dismissive hand gestures or the absolute belter of some one telling you to ‘Fuck off’ being a sales assistant can be hard work. You need to develop a thick skin to weed out the nastier people and find those gems of the public who want your advice, need that elusive size or the pair of shoes in a shade the designer had never even considered. I really hope this is something that Mary will look at, its not just down to the behaviour of head office the mirror needs to be swung the other way towards the public and how they behave.

I would also love to see Mary step a little out of her comfort zone and turns that fiery bob towards entertainment stores. With the sad news that HMV will be closing a huge number of stores, Zavvi, Our Price and Virgin Megastore are nothing but memories now I would like Mary to tell them what they are doing wrong. After a brief tenure at Game it would be fantastic for Mary to go in and tell them off for exploiting peoples insecurities and knowledge of the game industry just to receive a few extra pounds in the till for a plastic tennis racket that will never be used.

In conclusion. Mary is back and ace as always I just hope over the coming weeks this new show will allow her to break forward into new and interesting areas about our shopping world.