77% of UK Valentine’s Day shoppers state stock was chief bugbear

Some 77% of UK consumers found limited availability of stock was the biggest irritation with shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores on Valentine's Day, according to research from Vista Retail Support.

While poor product ranges emerged as the major gripe, irrelevant promotions were the next biggest problem, cited by 25% of respondents. Crowds irritated 21% of shoppers, while smutty promotions spoiled the experience for 17% of romantics.

"Having the right stock is crucial at all times of the year, but particularly on Valentine's Day, when there is such a rush," said James Pepper, technical services director at Vista Retail Support.

"It's important for retailers to invest in technology that makes the greatest range of products available to cope with surges in demand so that shoppers don't go away disappointed. But it's also important to set the right tone so that consumers are not rubbed up the wrong way by dodgy promotions or put off by crowds."

The survey demonstrated the major advantages to store operators of accommodating click-and-collect. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers (74%) said they bought a second gift in a store after collecting what they had ordered online.

When asked how long they spent buying their romantic gift, 43% of shoppers said they spent no more than 30 minutes, including 10% who spent ten minutes at most. A devoted 9% said they spent a whole morning or afternoon selecting the perfect gift.

"Retailers need to be prepared for these short-lived peaks in demand around particular dates in the calendar," added Pepper. "But the boost from click-and-collect demonstrates the opportunities that are there if store operators get the mix of service and technology right. Consumers have high expectations which retailers need to meet."

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