Retailers would dearly love for consumers to return to their free-spending ways of the past, especially as we head into the holiday season. Back in August, retail trackers were predicting school-related spending would be up, especially for clothing and tech-related retailers. Surprisingly, while parents were paying for skinny jeans, calculators and hair cuts, they were also allowing their children to put some skin into the game - 9 percent of parents surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they’d pay for back-to-school tattoos. (Look for tattoos removal franchises to be booming in 20 years.)

Since times are tough, here’s a list of ways retailers can keep the customers they do have - which as everyone knows is less expensive than finding new ones. The tips are from John Boyens of the Boyens Group, a sales-productivity consultancy, from a recent seminar hosted by Faegre & Benson:

1.  Profile your best customers and find ways to attract new ones who look like them.

2.  When you receive feedback from customers, make sure it’s unedited. “It doesn’t matter if you think you have good customer service, if the market doesn’t,” Boyens said. Especially if the market is posting it on their Facebook pages or tweet about you.

3.  It takes seven to nine touches (views) for someone to just hear - not act upon - your message. Make sure you’re reaching out with consistent messages.

4.  Employee satisfaction equals customer satisfaction. “Never in the history of retail has an unhappy employee delivered outstanding service,” he said.

5.  94 percent of unsatisfied customers never complain - to you. Their peer group is another matter.

6.  Your space should be clean, shelves stocked and the store easy to navigate.

7.  Build trust. Customers want to buy from people and brands that they trust.