Long Lines and Out-of-Stock Items Will Send Shoppers Elsewhere This Holiday Season

This holiday season, shoppers are in the driver’s seat. Despite optimistic retail numbers for the season, both brick-and-mortar and online stores need to be mindful of the less-than-positive shopping experiences of customers in 2017.

According to global strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney’s 2018 Holiday Shopping Survey, consumers in 2017 were put off by long lines (84 percent), aggressive crowds ( 67 percent), out-of-stock items (67 percent), poor in-store service (57 percent) and restrictive return policy (37 percent). What’s more, those negative experiences are shaping their shopping behaviors.

Because of unsatisfactory in-store or online experiences in 2017, about 45 percent of holiday shoppers said they intend to purchase from different retailers, either online or in-store, this year. Meanwhile, almost half of holiday shoppers took personal ownership of their poor retail experiences — saying they plan to shop earlier this year.

About 23 percent of those surveyed noted they will shift their shopping primarily to online and mobile shopping, 19 percent responded they are willing to pay additional fees to ensure fast/timely delivery, 14 percent noted they will shift their shopping primarily to in-store shopping, while 26 percent do not plan to adjust their shopping destinations this holiday season.

According to the report’s authors, customers are equally demanding whether shopping in-store or online. Shoppers will be less tolerant of distribution glitches this year given the number of online orders that were delayed in 2017, they noted. As a result, customers are migrating toward online retailers that promise shorter delivery dates and live up to their promise.

“Retailers have responded, as evidenced by their significant investment in buy-online and pick-up-in-store capabilities that allow them to capitalize on the efficiency of their store-based network — even as increasing online demand strains their capability to meet that demand,” the researchers said.

A.T. Kearney polled 1,000 shoppers about how last year’s experience would impact this year’s spending.

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