Holiday shoppers have no patience for bad in-store experiences

Consumers are ready to spend this holiday, but not necessarily at the same places they shopped last year.

This was according to A.T. Kearney’s “2018 Holiday Shopping Survey: How Retailers Can Capitalize on Last Year’s Lessons,” in which 40% of respondents plan on buying from different retailers, on and offline, than they did in 2017. And 23% of those surveyed indicated a willingness to shift their primary buying online, or to mobile, as a result of bad in-store experiences.

The survey polled 1,000 shoppers about how their 2017 experience would influence their 2018 spending. It found that consumers—battle-scarred by last year's memories of long lines, aggressive crowds, out-of-stock items, and poor service—are more than ready to seek out stores and websites prepared to give them what they want, how they want it. Over 60% of holiday consumers said they are willing to change where they shop based on their negative experiences last year.

Holiday shoppers are clearly intent on getting the best deals, but avoiding the holiday rush has become their second most important objective, according to the survey. Long checkout lines and out-of-stock issues are the top drivers of switching behavior.

Retailers can attack long lines and out-of-stocks through a combination of both human and operational remedies, advised A.T. Kearney. To do this, retailers hope to hire about 10% more holiday workers than in 2017, but the market for experienced seasonal labor is tight, competitive, and expensive.

There are non-labor-based solutions available as well. Automation and supply chain efficiencies can help offset the impact of labor shortages. For example, retailers are making self-checkouts more available and investing in technologies like automated solutions for detecting out-of-stocks.

“Whatever the remedy, the message to retailers is clear: consumers are going to be more impatient and less forgiving than they were in past years. And, in a year when those shoppers have more money in their wallets and are more open to spending it, not giving them what they want could be a very expensive mistake,” the study said. Read more about

For A.T. Kearney's 2018 Holiday Shopping Survey, click here.
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