Retailers must improve shopping conditions, survey finds

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on May 15, 2006

Shopping is bad for personal relationships according to a survey of nearly 2,000 British shoppers, of which more than one in three report arguing with their partner when they visit shops in the High Street.

Two-thirds of the people surveyed (65%) said they feel stressed when they go shopping. According to the research conducted for Conchango, huge queues and slow sales staff are the main reasons for the irritability that inevitably leads to arguments.

When asked what was most stressful about high street shopping, the main factors cited by consumers were:

  1. Huge queues (52%);
  2. Sales staff are too slow (15%);
  3. Other (13%);
  4. Shops don't open late enough (9%);
  5. Going with a partner (7%);
  6. Changing rooms aren't great (4%).

Too polite?
Charlotte Harper, managing director for International, was not surprised by the results and believes that shopping is an unhealthy activity for couples. The problem is made worse by the fact that many British consumers are too polite to confront a slow cashier or other shoppers who annoy them, so much of the frustration that shoppers feel ends up being unleashed on unsuspecting partners who accompany them.

According to Mike Altendorf of Conchango, "Couples' free time together is better spent on jobs that are less stressful - such as gardening or cooking a meal together. High street shopping can be such an unpleasant event, and it's not surprising that couples take the stress of the experience out on each other. As a result, shopping is no longer a pastime that many couples wish to share."

Slow sales trend
The research also found this trend reflected in recent retail sales figures throughout the UK. Public holidays were once a time for couples to visit stores together, but Easter 2006 saw slower-than-usual high street sales. According to Conchango, retailers that want to entice couples back into their stores together must start making the experience more conducive to happy families.

Key findings
Among the research report's main findings:

  • 71% of respondents see shopping as a vital and necessary part of their lives;
  • Half of the people surveyed don't have time for recreational shopping during the week;
  • 39% feel that high street shops' opening hours don't cater for their needs;
  • 45% try to squeeze shopping into their lunch breaks and after work and, of these, 27% feel that this isn't enough time;
  • 67% do not have enough time or energy to shop in their spare time;
  • 35% resent having to shop at weekends;
  • 59% choose to shop online because high street shops aren't open at convenient times;
  • 35% of couples argue when they go out shopping;
  • 61% feel stressed when shopping in the high street.

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