Window shopping is a favorite American pastime and because San Francisco has stylish retail showrooms we're on everyone's bucket list, especially Union Square. However, our city's sales etiquette is not great, as many salespeople harass customers to the point that they're more aggressive than the panhandlers on Market and 6th Street.
It is true that salespeople should acknowledge every customer within 30 seconds of entering their store and to politely check on them every once in a while. That's good customer service and most customers feel comfortable with it, and if they want to end the conversation than they can say "I'm just looking."
I've attended sales training classes that taught how to get customers to warm up to you and to overcome their objections, but those techniques come across as overly aggressive behavior from customers' point of view. When customers emit a vibe that they want to be left alone and the salespeople become persistent than it backfires because the customers try even harder to get them to back off. For example, when customers say "I'm just looking", which is a clear sign to leave them alone, and then the salespeople launch into a sales pitch or they keep talking long after they should have shut up, or they follow the customers around the showroom, than it gives customers the creeps and if they buy something than it won't be from that person.
I have a hilarious story about a saleswoman at Lush, a toiletries shop in the Cow Hollow district in San Francisco. They have these really great fizz balls in a bazillion different scents, and while I was smelling them a saleswoman approached me and she was determined to sell me one by any means necessary. I politely said, "I'm just window shopping today." I told her to leave me alone three times but she was so determined to sell me a fizz ball that it became obvious that she's a victim of one of those sales technique classes and so I started teasing her. I began by asking which elements from the Periodic Table of Elements were used to make them, including the fragrances, and when she didn't know the answer I asked her how management decided which fragrances to use, and then I moved onto colors. And then I told her that I can't take baths in my apartment because my roommate has athlete's foot, and she responded, "That's okay, it will die in five minutes."
She was panicked that she might get fired for not selling enough fizz balls. I'm serious. I bought the stupid thing just so that she could breathe.