Want to Succeed in Retail? Hire Ugly People

Nora Crotty
·News Editor
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Photo: Getty Images

We typically scoff at beautiful actresses who claim they have a hard time scoring roles because they’re “too attractive” (Hi, Charlize!). But a new study shows that the situation isn’t so different in the retail industry, either.

A report in the Journal of Consumer Research (via Time) claims that employing extremely attractive floor people can be detrimental to business because shoppers find them too intimidating. I mean, would you feel totally cool about asking that Chris Pine look-alike in your local CVS where to find the chocolate-flavored Ex-Lax? NOPE!

“Even when the attractive salesperson is the same sex, consumers may feel a sense of inadequacy through self-comparison,” write the study’s authors, Lisa C. Wan and Robert S. Wyer Jr. “In either case, the shopper may avoid interacting with physically attractive providers, rendering the salespeople ineffective.”

A 2009 study unearthed by Time states that it isn’t just “embarrassing” purchases that cause people to stay away from pretty salesfolk: It showed that women ages 19 to 26 were less likely to buy common goods like makeup and phones from a retail employee who was much more attractive than them. Envy is a bitch.

The findings go against the “hotter is better” mentality that several retailers, such as American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hollister Co., have used throughout the years in their hiring process. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, those same stores have had a particularly rough go of it financially over the past few years.

It just goes to show that being genetically blessed doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be blessed with an income and bomb-ass employee discount. So for all you “normals” out there, the next time that the Kendall or Gigi in your life complains about being broke as a joke and jobless, try to take pity on her, won’t you?

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