What Does Cleanliness Have to do With Customer Retention?

Dirt, clutter and disorganization repel customers. First impressions make a difference and set the tone for the customer experience as soon as a shopper steps into the physical store.

According to a recent survey, 95 percent of consumers agree that cleanliness can elevate a good business into a great business.

To increase customer satisfaction, leading to a higher conversion rate, it’s essential to maintain a retail environment that’s organized and clean.

First Impressions: Important Areas to Keep Clean

The following areas must be addressed daily and with more frequency during high-traffic periods:

  • Windows and front displays
  • Entrances
  • Flooring
  • Displays
  • Restrooms
  • Dressing rooms
  • High-touch areas
  • Backroom/storage area

All sections of the store need to be clean, even during the busiest shopping seasons. While this can seem like an impossible feat, it’s a key factor to retaining customers.

Let’s go over the areas of your store you need to keep clean in more detail:

Windows and Entrances

Clean, streak-free windows create a favorable first impression and have the potential to entice casual window shoppers inside — especially when the front display is eye-catching. Rely on lighting, fixtures, and groupings to create a display that tells a story and inspires shoppers to check out products.

The store’s entrance should be welcoming and clutter-free. Guests need to enter easily without a bombardment of signage or tight walkways due to display overflow. If the entrance opens directly outside, keep the floor dry during inclement weather. Slick and wet flooring is a slip/fall hazard. It’s not just customers at risk. More than 17 percent of all disabling injuries in the workplace are caused by slips and falls.


Customers notice the store’s flooring conditions. Daily vacuuming is essential if carpeted, as is sweeping and mopping for other flooring materials. The flooring reflects the business. If the carpet is littered with bits or the tile dull and marred with scuffs, shoppers notice and their overall impression lowers. Spills must be handled as soon as possible — not only for appearances, but for safety reasons as well.

Simplify Displays

There’s a fine line with displays between too much and too little. More often, it’s too much. A cluttered display makes it hard for shoppers to focus on the product(s). Limit the number of props, blinking lights and signage to what’s needed to highlight the product, tell its story and make a positive impression. Remember the rule of three. Opt for three mannequins versus two or four, three wrapped presents, or three items with individual spotlights.

Interactive displays should be easy to reach and free of product clutter. Consider freestanding display cabinets with drawer space for storing items instead of cluttering the area within the display.

Restrooms and Dressing Rooms

Dirty restrooms have a negative impact on businesses. If the restroom has unpleasant odors; lacks proper hand-cleaning products; and the floors, toilets/urinals, and baby-changing areas are dirty, customers are more likely to leave without making a purchase.

Likewise, dirty dressing rooms with bad lighting and cracked or streaked mirrors can lead to business loss. The restrooms and dressing rooms are critical areas that must be kept well-lit, odor-free and clean. This may mean employees have to clean during regular business hours to maintain standards.

High-Touch Areas

The point of purchase and checkout area are typically the last chance you have to make a favorable customer impression. These high-touch areas can be hard to keep clean, especially when busy, but it’s important. Wipe countertops and surfaces with disinfectant to reduce germs and remove unsightly fingerprints, smudges and other marks. Customers don’t want to set new, clean merchandise on a dirty counter.

Don’t Forget the Back Room

While unseen by the customer, the back room and storage areas also need to be well-organized and clean. Clean storage areas may even help reduce breakage/loss. In addition, reducing clutter and increasing organization can help employees quickly locate items — shortening the time it takes to restock displays.


Clutter, dirt, and disorganization detract from a positive customer shopping experience and can lead to loss of sales. With a de-cluttered and clean store, your customers are likelier to shop longer and more frequently, leading to better conversion rates and higher sales.

This post was contributed by our friends at OPTO. Learn more about their retail displays at optosystem.com.

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Robin Brower is Senior Vice President of Business Development at OPTO, where she leads the design and business development teams. OPTO offers retail display solutions. Brower built the design department from scratch in 1983 and has been the organization’s lead designer for the past 35 years.