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UK’s retailers must raise service standards or risk failure warns new report

74% of consumers will leave a store if they experience bad service

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

UK’s retailers must raise service standards or risk failure warns new report

74% of consumers will leave a store if they experience bad service

Over the last 12-18 months consumers' shopping habits have changed significantly. The advent of the credit crunch has seen the emergence the “Hypersensitive Consumer” - an individual that is both time and money poor, feels guilty about spending, is less loyal and believes that retailers are privileged to have them in their stores. This new consumer is providing a challenge to t
he UK High Street like never before according to new research from accountants and business advisers BDO Stoy Hayward LLP.

Serving up a dose of reality, the research has shown that the Hypersensitive Consumer refuses to tolerant bad service, with an overwhelming 74 per cent of consumers saying they would not buy and would leave the store if they encountered poor service. A further 71 per cent are happy to look elsewhere for the right bargain; so if the shopping experience isn't up to scratch consumers will simply move on to a competitor.

Don Williams, Retail Partner, at BDO Stoy Hayward says: “The new Hypersensitive Consumer is more switched on, better informed and surrounded by choice. They'll mix Prada with Primark and Waitrose with Lidl - a phenomenon we've not seen before.”

“Retailers should be frightened by the fact 74 per cent of their customers would leave the store if they encountered bad service. In the current environment, this is something that they just cannot afford to ignore,” warns Williams.

Putting further pressure on retailers is the fact that consumers want their shopping experience to continue improving. Nearly half (48 per cent) say they have increased their expectations in the past two years and they are less likely to buy if any part of the experience is substandard.

“A lack of changing rooms, having to queue and poor product availability all ranked highly on the Hypersensitive Consumer's list of objections. Consumers are saying 'constantly delight me with what you've got on offer' highlighting that retailers need to provide a shopping experience as opposed to a shopping trip. As non-food retail sales continue to suffer this simple advice just cannot be ignored,” points out Williams.

Lastly, the Hypersensitive Consumer wants better value from retailers. Nearly half (49 per cent) of consumers agreed that they had less to spend. Yet it's not all about discounting - as 71 per cent agreed that they are happy to pay full price to treat themselves.

“Our research identified that perceptions of value don't just influence where the Hypersensitive Consumer makes a purchase, but that it could determine whether the purchase happens at all. The Hypersensitive Consumer is more reluctant to buy, and needs a strong reason to do so,” points out Williams.

“To win the Hypersensitive Consumer's business, retailers can't afford weakness in any part of their strategy. Brands, channels and formats may all need to be reviewed and aligned: the key to success is a holistic approach that removes any hurdles to purchase and provides a rich and engaging shopping experience,” concludes Williams.

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