The recession has changed consumers’ shopping habits so much that three quarters of shoppers would leave a store without buying if they received poor levels of customer service.

The BDO Stoy Hayward research found that 71 per cent of consumers would be happy to look elsewhere if they encountered poor customer service.

Nearly half of shoppers said their expectations have risen as a result of the recession.

The survey found that the rise of the so-called “hypersensitive consumer” means retailers need to concentrate more than ever on their store and staff standards.

BDO Stoy Hayward retail partner Don Williams said: “The new hypersensitive consumer is more switched on, better informed and surrounded by choice. They’ll mix Prada with Primark and Waitrose with Lidl – a phenomenon we’ve not seen before.

“Retailers should be frightened by the fact 74 per cent of their customers would leave the store if they encountered bad service. In the current environment, this is something that they just cannot afford to ignore.”

Williams said a lack of changing rooms, having to queue and poor product availability all ranked highly on consumers’ list of objections.