mploying beautiful or handsome shop assistants to man the tills may appear a foolproof strategy for pulling in customers.
But a new study suggests that, in some cases, attractive salespeople can actually scare away shoppers, making them abandon their prospective purchases and flee.
Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong monitored 164 ‘socially inept’ men with an obsessive interest in computer technology who visited a shop selling figures based on Japanese comics.
They found that when the shop was staffed by the beautiful woman, just 57 per cent of the men plucked up enough courage to enter, compared with 80 per cent when the less attractive woman was working.
The team also found that those who did enter were less inclined to speak to attractive woman, ending conversations around 90 seconds earlier.
Finally, fewer men made a purchase when the sales person was beautiful. Just 38 of the customers went on to buy a figure, model or gift compared with 56 when the sales assistant was less attractive. They also spent less money when an attractive employee was working – $28 compared with $41.