Sales & Marketing

Shoppers are turning their backs on the High Street

2 min read

12 November 2012

As the festive season draws nearer, retailers' stock shortages are deterring a third of Christmas shoppers from the High Street, and a huge 36 per cent will choose to shop online this year instead.

When questioned, one in five customers said they had attempted to buy an out of stock item within the last month; and a quarter experienced this in the last year. – Even when they had checked beforehand to see if the item would be available.

Food outlets are struggling the most: 21 per cent of customers listed food stores as the number one retailer experiencing shortages; some 16 per cent experienced shortages with clothing retailers and nine per cent with electrical goods stores.

“It’s clear that retailers have a major challenge in balancing stock management and the ability to respond quickly to customer demand,” says Brian Weston, director at the Institute of Customer Service. 

“Many consumers clearly value the benefits of the physical shopping environment. Yet the evidence of this research shows that if goods are out of stock, consumers are highly likely to go to the competition or shop online, and may be less likely to return in future.”

Losing out

An overwhelming 50 per cent of surveyed consumers described the lack of stock as “one of the most frustrating shopping experiences”. Some 39 per cent question how much a store values its customers when it runs out of stock.

Customers are already beginning to turn away from their local outlets: over a third of customers said they walk away from shops where they experience shortages, taking their business elsewhere. 

A lack of stock leaves 42 per cent of consumers less inclined to shop at the store in future and 36 per cent more likely to buy from an online competitor.

With plenty of choice online, this lack of confidence in the High Street by shoppers means that local shops may not see the usual rush of shoppers this Christmas. The key lesson: stock up early or lose out!