Over half of consumers have walked out of a store when they were going to make a purchase because of long queues, new research has revealed.

The survey of 1,058 adults, which was carried out by Mintel, also found that a further 35% of consumers have left a store where they were going to buy goods because they could not find the product they were looking for or the price of the item.  The same number of consumers have been put off certain shops due to unattractive store design.

Too frequent changes in layout at stores irritate over four in ten consumers; this is considerably more likely to irritate female consumers (at 46%) compared to male consumers (at 37%).  Meanwhile, 13% of shoppers have walked out of a store where they were going to make a purchase because they could not easily access certain areas of the store.

Investing in store design

In 2002 retailers in the UK were estimated to have spent £1.6bn (US$2.6bn) on shop fitting and interiors, out of a total £3bn on store design and refits. This represents around 1.3% of retail sales in the year. There is a growing trend for retailers to refurbish, as many have store chains that are already reaching their optimum numbers in the UK. Difficulties in finding new sites, tougher consumer expectations and increasing competition are fuelling this refurbishment trend.

Over four in ten consumers tend to spend more time in shops that have an attractive store environment. Good facilities such as cafes, restaurants, toilets and baby changing will encourage 30% of adults to spend more time in a store.

Over a quarter of adults are frequently tempted by a window display to enter a shop and make a purchase, while the same number are tempted to buy new products by promotional displays, sampling or demonstrations in shops. By contrast, a third of consumers don’t care what the store looks like providing the products are good value.

Speed and ease are priorities for supermarket shoppers

The top priority for supermarkets is to make the shopping experience as easy as possible for their customers, while encouraging them to spend more time at the store through the provision of facilities to improve the comfort factor. Some 45% of adults would like to see more service counters/checkouts, while some 32% would like more toilets and 31% clearer signposting in the store. Other key areas identified for improvement are more space/wider walkways (28%), better layout (25%), seating areas (22%) and clearer product/price information on shelving/displays (20%).

Now that supermarket shopping has become mostly self-service, the opportunity to encounter the smell or taste of the goods before purchasing has often disappeared.  The interactive experience of being able to smell or taste the food is one that has become more rare. Many consumers enjoy the opportunity of seeing demonstrations or testing and sampling goods. More than one in five consumers feel that testing and sampling is a feature that they would like to see in a supermarket.

Apart from the provision of toilets (27%), which many household goods stores lack, the main areas that retailers operating in this sector could improve upon are providing more conveniently located helpdesks (22%), providing more demonstrations of products (22%) and more service counter/checkouts (20%). Having knowledgeable staff available to explain products and/or demonstrate them is clearly important in this sector, particularly for electrical goods where the current pace of change in technology is rapid.