Poor service in shops is costing retailers £5.4bn

Kasmira Jefford
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RETAILERS are losing out on £5.4bn of sales because of bad service in shops and not catering to the needs of ever more demanding consumers, according to a new report by Australian shopping centre giant Westfield.

The retailer’s 30-page analysis released today identifies eight trends dictating UK’s changing shopping habits, including how technology and the simplicity of online shopping is making consumers less tolerant to poor service in store.

Of the 8,000 consumers surveyed since June last year, two thirds said they would not use a store if it had bad service and more than half of said they would leave if they had to queue too long for a changing room or to pay.

Nearly half of Britons questioned said they chose a shop based on the quality of mobile signal or the availability of wifi, with consumers switching into what Westfield describes as “machine mode” when they shop.

“We treat our digital devices like life support machines and if our supply is cut–off, we’ll walk,” the report said.

Shoppers are also demanding more technology in stores with over 65 per cent of respondents between 14 and 34 years-old saying that digital services, such as touch screen ordering points, self-service tills and virtual mirrors would encourage them to spend more.

Men are the most dependent on technology, with 72 per cent using a smartphone or tablet to shop. Overall 70 per cent of Britons use a mobile device to help them shop.

Despite rising online competition, Westfield argues that stores will continue to have an important role, but as an art gallery-style space used for socialising as well as shopping. Brands such as Whistles have responded by offering services such as personal stylists and refreshments to win over customers.

Retailers have also come under pressure from fierce discounting amid weak consumer spending. As a result sale shopping has become the new normal for consumers regardless of their finances, with 34 per cent using their mobiles to pick up vouchers, Westfield said.

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