Survey: Retailers losing money due to long lines

Bay Shore, N.Y. Back-to-school retailers are losing up to 39% of revenues due to long lines and in-line frustration, according to a new study sponsored by Lawrence, a Tensator Group Co., which specializes in customer queue management solutions.

With overall K-12 and college spending combined expected to reach $55 billion this year, back-to-school shopping is the second largest event for retailers, right behind the winter holidays. According to the Lawrence study, $21 billion of that revenue is lost to poor customer queue management. The company reported these key findings as part of a survey it conducted in the first two weeks of August with Surge Research, an independent national research firm.

In the nationwide opinion study of 500 parents with school-aged children, the vast majority, 75% of respondents say long lines are the worst part of the back-to-school shopping experience.

Nearly four-in-10 (39%) parents leave stores while back-to-school shopping without purchasing a single item because of long lines. Long lines are cited by 35%, one-in-three parents, as the primary reason for leaving the store -- worse than high prices, lack of supplies or inexperienced sales personnel.

“American consumers have spoken. They are willing to walk away if they get too frustrated waiting on long lines. When you add it all up, these ‘walkaways’ cost retailers billions of dollars during ‘Back to School,’ one of the hottest shopping seasons of the year,” said Bill Vetter, general manager and senior VP at Lawrence. “Time is money -- reducing ‘walkaways’ and optimizing queue time is the end game. By deploying a smart queue management strategy, retailers can take control of and ideally manage the customer journey, from when they enter the store, at the retail point-of-sale, in-line at checkout and once they walk out the door.”

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