Even though we're a food shop and the pre-Christmas mayhem hasn't really hit yet (though we are busy), I thought this story from last summer might help those of you who are actually braving the shops.
It was late in the day and I must have been getting tired when a woman came in, looking for something (I can't now remember what).
She started off by shaking her head as she said "You don't have ________ do you."
As I said, I was a little tired, so I started to shake my head along with her when I suddenly realized that we did, indeed, have what she was looking for.
I snapped to, pulled it off the shelf and made the sale.
Ever since then, I've been noticing how many people ask for what they want in the negative. And I wonder how often they leave a store disappointed.
Because, here's the thing. I'm the owner here. That gives me a massive incentive to give my customers what they want.
In most stores, the person waiting on you is a staff member, trying to do a good job, of course, but if they're tired, or it's been one of those days, it might be easier to just agree with the customer and say, "No. We don't have that."
It's just a suggestion, but if you find yourself coming home empty-handed whenever you go shopping, you might want to try stating your question as a positive: "Where can I find...?" or at the very least as a neutral: "Do you have...?"
The person serving you will have to think about it a little more and you may just get what you want more often.