Independent Spar retailers are being taught sales skills by wholesaler James Hall.

The free "active selling" course teaches shop-floor staff to sell a line to customers by telling them about its benefits or suggesting they try it based on the contents of their basket. James Hall is offering the course to independents after successful results at its 84 company-owned stores. One store sold 409 packets of Spar muffins in a week, compared with 15 the previous week, after focusing on the product.

Food retailers were behind other retailers when it came to cross-selling or telling customers about new products, claimed training manager Linda Johnson. "If you buy a card from Clinton, they always try to sell you wrapping paper, a box and stamps," she said. "In convenience, we only do it for the obvious things, like offering a cigarette lighter if someone buys tobacco."