Home Business News Covid queues could cost British retailers £10bn per year

Covid queues could cost British retailers £10bn per year

by LLB Finance Reporter
20th Apr 21 10:20 am

Queues in the Coronavirus era could be costing British retailers an additional £10 billion in annual revenues, finds software company Qudini, with one in ten consumers stating they were avoiding entering stores or walking out of stores without service because of queues before the pandemic began.

A recent survey of 2,000 UK consumers by virtual queuing and appointment booking software solutions provider, Qudini, found that customers were avoiding or walking out of stores due to queues for service before the pandemic began, costing British retailers a total of £10 billion per annum in immediate lost revenue opportunity (see calculation below).

The survey found that 10% of UK consumers were avoiding or walking out of stores “often” due to queues for service before Covid-19, while an additional 38% of consumers stated that they were doing so “sometimes”.

The survey also found 26% of UK consumers strongly agreed with the statement “A long waiting experience would make me less likely to return to a retailer”, while 35% somewhat agreed. When looking at the 26% who strongly agreed with the statement, British retailers could be losing out on a further £28 billion in sales from customers that may have otherwise returned at least once more.

During the Coronavirus outbreak, Qudini insights indicate lost immediate revenue is even greater. One fifth (20%) of consumers said they are “Much more likely” to avoid entering stores or are more likely to walk out of stores without buying anything because of queues for service. An additional 28% of consumers said they were “More likely”. When looking at the 20% who stated they are “Much more likely” to walkout of stores (assuming half of that number are accounted for in those that often walkout of stores outside of the pandemic), British retailers stand to lose an additional 10% of their footfall in the Coronavirus era, reaching a total of £20 billion in annual revenues across the UK.

The survey found that Millennial and GenZ consumers and those from higher household income groups were 1.5 more times likely to avoid entering stores, to walk out of stores without service and to be deterred from returning to stores because of queues (this was true before and during the pandemic).

Consumers’ biggest concerns when queuing are “Contracting Covid-19” at 40%, followed by disliking waiting in poor weather conditions such as rain or snow (36%), lack of certainty and information (34%), lack of comfort (33%) and time wasted (28%).

When asked how long consumers were prepared to wait in queues to enter stores or to receive service, a fifth (21%) of shoppers were only prepared to wait up to three minutes. 19% will wait between three and seven minutes and 19% will wait between eight and 10 minutes. Only 12% of consumers will wait more than 11 minutes.

Consumers were willing to wait the longest in essential store types, such as grocery, retail and pharmacy stores, as well as estate agencies, cycle stores, mum/children/toy stores, opticians/eyewear stores, travel agencies, car dealerships and luxury fashion/product stores.

In contrast, consumers were the least willing to wait at shoe, book, DIY, electronics, sportswear, fashion, homeware and jewellery stores.

More than a third (36%) of consumers felt a virtual queuing system (that enabled them to join a queue from their phones or a store host and receive phone updates while they waited) would reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19. Other benefits that appealed to consumers included enabling them to use their time more productively (28%), avoiding wind and rain (25%), providing extra information (24%) and creating a fairer process (24%).

The option of booking store appointments for service or store entry also appealed to 23% of consumers for its ability to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19. Other benefits included increasing efficiency and avoiding queuing (22%), greater fairness (14%) and a better, more dedicated service (11%).

Qudini’s virtual queuing and appointment booking software is being used by a number of retailers to combat their Coronavirus queuing problems including: Burberry, Nike, Pandora, Dixons Carphone, Asda, NatWest, Pets at Home, Ellis Brigham, Sky, O2 and Waitrose.

Commenting on these insights, Qudini’s founder and CEO, Imogen Wethered said, “Queuing has always been one of the top concerns for shoppers. A 2018 survey showed it was the most cited cause of a poor retail experience, impacting 51% of consumers. Covid-19 has further exacerbated consumer concerns around queuing to the extent that potential revenues retailers with queues stand to lose have doubled.”

“On the upside, our survey showed a strong demand for virtual queuing and appointment booking software as a powerful antidote to consumers’ concerns around queuing and waiting for service. 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. When calculating the potential financial return available to retailers, they have more to gain through using these solutions than they do to lose.”

“As we’re all increasingly coming to realise, Covid-19 isn’t going to go out with a boom when the UK’s vaccination rollout is complete. Our insights suggest retailers should be investing in solutions to help them better attract and retain customers, even when there is a queue.”

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