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Store shoppers will pay extra for service

A new study suggests the expense of staffing stores is worth it.

According to a recent survey of 1,003 U.S. consumers from marketing solutions provider Engine Insights, roughly two-thirds of consumers (64%) say they would pay a premium to ensure human assistance in at least one retail category. This willingness is even higher among younger-age segments, particularly those 18-34 (74%).

Following is a breakdown of responses for each category included in the survey, with the main reason for being willing to pay more for human assistance.

• Sitdown/casual restaurant – 37% - Enjoy human interaction/being served.
• Fine dining restaurant – 36% - Enjoy human interaction/being served.
• Grocery store – 28% - Enjoy human interaction/being served.
• Electronics store – 27% - Want help/advice.
• Clothing/apparel store – 25% - Want help/advice.
• Superstore/department store – 25% - Want help/advice.
• Fast-food/quick-casual restaurant – 21% - Enjoy human interaction/being served.
• Convenience store – 16% - Want help/advice.

On average, respondents would be willing to pay 13% more for human assistance in a fine dining restaurant or superstore/department store, 12% more in a grocery store or clothing/apparel store, 11% more in a sitdown/casual restaurant, 10% more in an electronics or convenience store, and 9% more in a fast-food or quick-casual restaurant.

In order to rank the various retail channels tested in terms of total opportunity, Engine Insights created an index called the People Premium to measure the combined effect of consumers’ willingness to pay more in a given category, along with how much more they are willing to pay. The formula is: [% willing to pay more] x [average percentage of increased payment] ÷ [100] and rounded to the nearest whole number. People Premium results were:

Fine dining 5
Sitdown/casual 4
Grocery 3
Clothing/apparel 3
Superstore/department store 3
Electronics 3
Convenience 2
Fast-food/quick-casual 2
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