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Study: Long lines will cost retailers business — and consumer loyalty

Impatient consumers are increasingly avoiding retailers that have long checkout lines.

Customers are growing increasingly impatient with retailers that do not focus on checkout speed, convenience and personalized experiences. 

Eighty two percent (82%) of consumers said that they will actively avoid going to a business with a line. Worse, 40% of these impatient shoppers will go to a competing business or abandon their purchase altogether, according to “The State of Waiting in Line 2023.” The study from customizable cloud-based solution provider Waitwhile, explores how frequently consumers wait in line, how they feel about waiting, and how brands can improve in-person customer experiences. 

In the United States alone, people spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line. Almost 70% of consumers associated waiting in line with negative feelings like boredom, annoyance, and frustration — and customers’ intolerance has skyrocketed with a 176% year-over-year jump, the study revealed.

Americans spend more time waiting in line at retail stores than at restaurants, pharmacies, doctor’s offices and banks combined. Not only is this the second year in a row that retail is the top industry where consumers regularly encounter lines, the study reported that the length of time customers spent waiting at retail stores has increased 30% since 2022. 

Refusing to spend any more time in a long line than necessary, more than 68% of consumers said they leave a physical line before it’s their turn. Meanwhile, 69% of respondents said that they would prefer to schedule an appointment rather than wait in line.

“The data is clear: consumer frustration when it comes to waiting in lines is on the rise, and inaction by brands is no longer tenable,” said Christoffer Klemming, CEO and co-Founder of Waitwhile. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen consumers enthusiastically return to shopping at brick & mortar stores, dining in restaurants, and traveling, yet the expectations for service are growing and loyalty is fleeting.”

Interestingly, shoppers do have more patience when shopping digitally. Not only do 57% of consumers prefer virtual queues, 64% of consumers are willing to wait longer in a virtual queue. Further, 38% of consumers said that they would continue shopping or browsing at a business while queuing virtually, the study revealed.

“Businesses that want to create a meaningful connection with their customers and drive business growth must implement technology that streamlines customer flows, enables operational efficiencies, and modernizes the in-person experience,” Klemming added.

Read more here: What makes a shopping experience convenient?

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