Brits are losing patience for queuing, and yes, it matters

4th Jun 2015

With Wimbledon just around the corner, we’re officially entering the one month a year that’s synonymous with a good old-fashioned British queue.

Scenes of thousands of people lining the streets alongside the home of tennis with deck chairs, flasks of coffee and tents is a picture that’s served up every year by the global press. It’s also a picture that sustains the old adage that Brits love to queue.

However, this isn’t necessarily representative of modern Britain, and new research suggests retailers resting on these old-school laurels could be losing as much as £3,581 a day at the hands of impatient British shoppers.

Commissioned by Sage Pay, the study of UK shopping habits found that in the last month alone, 53% of consumers have walked out of a store as a result of long waiting times. Only 26% were happy to “wait out” long queues.

The research also found that the chief pain points for in-store shopping mainly occurred at tills, with 73% identifying the current form of payment in retail outlets as the most irritating aspect of the in-store experience.

60% of consumers say they would only wait a short time before putting items back and leaving, or simply leave immediately if faced with a queue. 56% said that they expected in-store retail to follow the online payment experience by making the ability to pay instantly more widespread.  

“This research brings to light a clear message from the UK’s shoppers,” says Sean Wilson, managing director at Sage Pay.

“If your business can’t replicate the speed and convenience of online in the face to face experience, they’ll simply take their money elsewhere. If high street retailers really want to take the challenge to their larger online counterparts, they need to be investing in new payments technologies that will allow them to fight the queues, and revolutionise the face to face experience.

Despite the obvious need for improved payment options in retail and a consumer desire for change, alternative payment options have been slow to proliferate.

According to data from Statista in late-2014, there are roughly 320m mobile payment users across the globe. However, when you take into account that 44% of this figure is made up of PayPal users, and that PoS systems (required by merchants to make mobile payment transactions) only currently account for approximately 2% of total global transactional value, it is clear that mobile payments are still yet to be the panacea for the UK’s growing queue frustrations.


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