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8 out of 10 shoppers are frustrated with queuing and 7 out of 10 would walk out of a store with long queues without making a purchase

13 June 2008: New research commissioned by workforce management expert Kronos suggests that 84% of shoppers are frustrated with queues at pay points and 74% of shoppers would actually leave a store without making a purchase if queues are too long. The “Kronos Retail Shopping Frustrations Survey” also highlights that 81% of respondents are likely to share a poor shopping experience with friends and family, further denting the reputation of the retailer.

The survey takes a look at shopping frustrations across all retail store types and the effect that a poor shopping experience has on the consumer and on the retailer’s reputation.

Shopping frustrations

One of the areas examined by the survey is consumer frustrations when shopping in a supermarket. Queues at the pay point are frustrating for 84% of respondents; 84% are frustrated by out-of-stock products; continually changing store layouts irritate 76% of us; and 74% are annoyed by poor quality products. Too few staff to help on the shop floor irritates 71% of respondents and unclean and untidy stores get the thumbs down from 77% of consumers.

Consumer attitude to long queues

It’s no surprise that so many shoppers feel frustrated with the length of time spent queuing in all types of retail stores, but worryingly for retailers, half of shoppers will turn on their heels and walk out of a shop where queues are long. The Kronos survey shows that 49% of respondents say they have walked out of a store with long queues at the pay point without making a purchase; 25% have walked out and taken their business elsewhere to find a store with shorter queues.

The wrong type of queue

The process of queuing is annoying for many shoppers, but it doesn’t end there. Long queues with unopened pay points are the biggest queuing frustration for 51% of survey respondents. Picking the ‘wrong’ queue annoys 12% of shoppers and poor service from the staff at the pay point frustrates 11% of us.

Is there an acceptable queue length?

The survey also reveals what shoppers deem to be an acceptable queue length with 17% of respondents happy to have one person in front and 44% of respondents agreeing that a maximum of two people is acceptable. A further 23% of shoppers think its fine to have a maximum of three people in front of them and 7% of respondents think it’s acceptable to have up to four other customers queuing in front.

Shoppers share a poor experience

Retailers should be concerned that disgruntled shoppers are unlikely to keep a poor shopping experience to themselves. Around 81% of respondents are very likely or quite likely to share their bad experience with friends and family (43% responded as very likely). Younger shoppers in the 16-24 age group appear the least likely to mention a poor shopping experience with friends and family, with 32% agreeing that they are very likely to do so.

Testing customer loyalty

Not only is a poor shopping experience often shared with others, it is very likely to erode a customer’s loyalty to a retailer and increase the likelihood of the customer taking their business elsewhere. For 50% of respondents feel strongly that continually out-of-stock products make them less loyal to a retailer and more likely to shop elsewhere, 42% feel the same way about unhelpful staff, 38% have their loyalty tested by long queues at the pay point, and 36% of people feel less loyal and more likely to shop elsewhere when the retailer appears to be unprepared for busy periods.

How could the supermarkets improve?

Shoppers have a number of ideas for how supermarkets in particular could improve the shopping experience. Top of the list was more checkout staff available at the right times, with 69% of respondents agreeing that this would improve the experience. Approximately 49% of respondents agree that better availability of products would improve things and 35% of respondents would like to see improvements to the range of products offered. An increase in the number of express lanes is seen as a key improvement by 35% of respondents and 28% would like to see more knowledgeable staff throughout the store.

Commenting on the findings from the survey, Simon Macpherson, Operations Director EMEA Kronos, says: “We’ve heard this week from the British Retail Consortium that consumer confidence has slumped to a record low. It’s a not a great time for complacency amongst retailers. It’s no great surprise that we’re all frustrated with queuing, but retailers need to take notice that many shoppers will vote with their feet by walking out of stores where queues are long. Also, shoppers are happy to shout it from the rooftops when the service provided is not up to scratch, leaving retailers with dented reputations. Unopened pay points, long queues and out-of-stock products are almost without exception the result of staff not being in the right place at the right time to provide the best possible customer service. Retailers need to address this issue if they are serious about improving one of the prime differentiators between their competition - the customer experience.”

“Is it really too much to expect that service standards in retail stores are world class – not just occasionally or in a handful of stores, but everywhere, all of the time?” asks Dr Ted Johns, Chairman of the Institute of Customer Service. “You’d think that every retailer would aspire to having happy customers 100% of the time – happy customers mean loyal customers and greater loyalty brings bigger profits, yet many retailers still fall short when it comes to providing a great customer shopping experience.”


Comment available:

Institute of Customer Service Director, Paul Cooper is available for comment on the survey findings. He can be contacted on 01787 278236, mobile 07703 597473 or email

Operations Director at Kronos, Simon Macpherson can be contacted via Kate Smyth at jd marketing on 0208 297 5388,

PR Contacts:

Kate Smyth and Jacqui Freeman at jd marketing
t: +44 (0) 208 297 5388
m: + 44 (0) 7747 012 946 (out of office hours, Jacqui Freeman)

Survey Methodology:

This survey was conducted online within GB by BMRB Omnibus on behalf of Kronos between May 15th and May 18th 2008 among 1,000 GB adults (aged 16-64). Figures for age, sex, region and household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the GB adult population.

About Kronos:

Kronos empowers organisations around the world to effectively manage their workforce. At Kronos, we are experts who are solely focused on delivering software and services that enable organisations to reduce costs, increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction, and ultimately enhance the level of service they provide. Kronos serves customers in more than 60 countries through its network of offices, subsidiaries, and distributors. Widely recognised as a market and thought leader in managing the workforce, Kronos has unrivalled reach with more than 30 million people using a Kronos solution every day. Learn more about Kronos at

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