Long lines to pay or self-checkout counters: What bothers US in-store shoppers more?
January 11th, 2024, Janice Fernandes

Long lines to pay or self-checkout counters: What bothers US in-store shoppers more?

Online shopping became standard practice for many during the pandemic. However, year-on-year trended data now suggests a notable return to brick-and-mortar establishments, particularly for grocery and apparel purchases.

But the experience isn’t always seamless. A fresh YouGov poll of 1,143 US adults reveals some of the most common irritations consumers have experienced in the past 12 months while visiting stores.

About 44% express frustration with empty shelves and a lack of stock, while 35% find waiting in line a bothersome part of the purchase process. Another 31% express irritation with stores failing to stock items seen online, and 30% have been frustrated by messy merchandising. Having to use self-checkout mechanisms has been an annoyance for 30% of US consumers.

Beyond inventory issues, 30% of customers have also noted a lack of knowledge among staff, while 17% are annoyed about being passed from one person to another to address a question.

On examining gender differences, the data reveals that women have higher dissatisfaction levels when shopping in-person. Lack of stock bothers 51% of women compared to 38% of men, and waiting in line and unstocked online items are more bothersome for women (37% and 35% respectively vs. 32% and 27% of men).

However, there are a few aspects of in-person shopping that annoy similar proportions of both men and women like the requirement to use self-checkouts (29% men and 31% women) and paying for bags (28% and 31% respectively).

The in-store shopping landscape, as unveiled by polling data, reveals distinct patterns across various age groups.

Regardless of age, a common annoyance resonates — empty shelves irk 35% of 18-34-year-olds, 44% of 35-54-year-olds, and a notable 52% of those aged 55 and above. While not finding products seen online bothers around 30% of consumers across age brackets, the prevalence of this grievance diminishes with age.

For the younger demographic (18-34), roughly a quarter are annoyed by messy merchandising (28%), waiting in line to pay for your item (27%), paying for bags (26%), and encountering staff who lack product knowledge (24%).

As we transition to the 35-54 age group, waiting in line to pay is a more significant gripe, with 37% echoing this sentiment. Three-tenths of younger consumers express discontent over shops failing to stock products seen online (30%), messy merchandising (30%), having to pay for bags (31%) and staff lacking product knowledge (29%).

In the 55+ age group, dissatisfaction levels reach new heights. Waiting in line to pay for items remains a noteworthy grievance at 39%, highlighting an increased sensitivity to checkout wait times. There's a more pronounced disapproval of having to use self-checkout counters (43%).

Concerns about waiting in line for changing rooms and limits on the number of items allowed in changing rooms bothers very few people across all age groups.

These findings offer valuable insights into the nuanced preferences and concerns of different age cohorts and genders when it comes to the in-store retail experience.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on November 27-28, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 1,143 adults in the United States (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, social grade and region to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Image: Getty Image