Almost nine out of ten shoppers (86%) avoid a store if its queues are too long, a survey of 2,000 UK consumers has revealed.
The research, conducted for customer engagement specialists Box Technologies and processor manufacturing giant Intel, reveals the full extent of consumer frustration, with 70% of respondents saying they are unlikely to return to a store if they have to wait for a long time on just one occasion.
In a stark warning for retailers preparing for the run-up to the festive season, more than a third (38%) said they have given up trying to make a purchase because of long queues, with nine minutes the average time consumers are prepared to wait before leaving empty-handed.
Nearly a quarter (24%) said five minutes is as long as they prepared to wait before quitting.
"Retailers no longer have an excuse if customers leave without making a purchase," said Raj Parmar, marketing director, Box Technologies. "These results demonstrate more clearly than ever how long queues are leading to lost sales and badly affecting profit margins, turning shopping into a seventh hell rather than a seventh heaven."
"As they get ready for Black Friday and the festive frenzy, retailers must be smarter and slicker, enabling staff to eradicate queues by arming them with versatile mobile technologies that can take payments or enhance customer service by offering product or stock information anywhere on the shop floor."
"When such effective technology is available, retailers can mobilise their workforce to improve the shopping experience for consumers. By bringing devices on to the shop floor, retailers can also convert potential 'window shoppers' into loyal customers, with recent research from Deloitte also proving that consumers who interact with a device during their shopping journey convert at a 40% higher rate. There are no longer any excuses for retailers when customers leave without making a purchase as a result of being left frustrated by poor customer experience."
The survey also revealed further irritations experienced by shoppers when queuing. More than a quarter (27%) said they are annoyed by fellow shoppers as they wait for the queue to move, with barging in, saving places and public displays of affection among the most common complaints.
Nearly one in five shoppers (19%) has an argument with a partner or friend while queuing.
"In today's customer-centred world, retailers must have the right customer engagement technology in place to free staff from the till and allow them to give shoppers a stress-free and pleasurable experience that will boost sales," added Parmar.