Retailers face major sales hit due to consumers' fears over visiting shops

One in ten consumers was often avoiding entering shops or walking out due to queues before the pandemic, and this has now risen – potentially costing British retailers tens of billions of pounds a year, according to a new report.

Virtual queuing and appointment booking software specialist Qudini also found that an additional 26 per cent of UK consumers strongly agreed with the statement “a long waiting experience would make me less likely to return to a retailer” – which could see British retailers lose £28bn in sales.

The firm last year surveyed 2,000 UK consumers, also finding strong appetite for virtual queuing and appointment booking to help tackle the issue, and after the onset of the pandemic, a fifth of consumers said they are “much more likely” to avoid entering stores or are more likely to walk out without buying anything because of long waiting times. This could slash revenues by an extra £20bn.

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Shoppers’ biggest concern when queuing is contracting Covid-19, at 40 per cent, while a fifth were only prepared to wait up to three minutes.

A survey has found that 26 per cent of UK consumers strongly agreed that a long queue would make them less likely to return to a retailer. Picture: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images.

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Imogen Wethered is the founder and chief executive of Qudini, which says its software is being used by the likes of Burberry, Nike, Pandora, Dixons Carphone, Asda, NatWest, Pets at Home, Sky, O2 and Waitrose. She said Covid-19 has exacerbated concerns among shoppers about queuing.

But she added that on the upside, consumers show strong interest in virtual queuing and appointment booking software. More than a third of those surveyed said they felt a virtual queuing system would reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19, and booking store appointments for service or entry appealed to about a quarter.

Ms Wethered added: “Consumers said that they are more likely to visit stores with these solutions, as well as buy something in store, buy something online, return to the retailer and to tell their friends about the retailer.”

A separate survey conducted by Brightpearl, which says it provides digital operations for major retail brands, found that two thirds of shoppers are planning to increase their online spend in 2021 over 2020, and a fifth will only shop online within the next five years. The firm also said it is launching the search to celebrate UK e-tailers that have grown the most during the pandemic.

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