Retailers risk losing loyalty as Brits spend 18 hours a year queuing

Visa Contactless study finds 89% of British consumers have left a shop or business as a result of excessive queuing

London, UK – 25 November 2014 – The average Brit spends over 18 hours a year queuing, with local shops, post offices and supermarkets the worst contributors to the UK ‘queuing culture’, according to stats released today by Visa Contactless.

Critically, over 89% of the 2,000 consumers surveyed have recently left a store as a result of the length of the queue, with two thirds (65%) admitting they’ve visited a rival store straight after in order to get what they need.

“These stats clearly show that consumers are so frustrated by long queues that they’ll go elsewhere rather than face such a long wait,” comments Kevin Jenkins, managing director UK & Ireland at Visa Europe. “Retailers that want to retain business and keep their customers happy, particularly during the busy Christmas period, should think about introducing methods that are proven to reduce queuing times, such as contactless payments.”

The survey revealed that Londoners are worst off, with those in the capital averaging 9.11 minutes per week in queues – more than two minutes longer than those in the West Midlands who suffer the second longest queues. Almost half felt that the length of queues was down to slow payment options and people having to find the right cash.

Commenting on the findings, behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings said: “Unlike some of our European neighbours, the British accept that queuing is a necessary and fair way of making a purchase. However, psychologically the length of time that we have to queue also affects our purchase decisions, as we can see from a whopping 89% of people leaving a shop, without making a purchase, due to excessive queuing. A strategy that both reduces our expectations, such as offering easy ways to pay or a full line of active cashiers as well as one that can also distract us from the impatience that the waiting, stress and boredom brings, is likely to be the most effective at bringing in return custom.”

Queuing is one of the nation’s most tedious and frustrating tasks, according to the consumers surveyed. Over half (53%) dislike queuing purely because of the amount of time it takes up, while 38% say that queuing bores them generally. A further 37% consider themselves to be patient people, but not when it comes to queuing.

Retailers including McDonalds, WHSmith, Tesco and Pret A Manger have introduced contactless to offer the rapidly growing proportion of British consumers who now own a contactless card a way to avoid lengthy queues in-store when they’re making payments up to £20.

James Anderson, General Manager of Yorkshire Grey, a London pub that uses the technology, comments: “We have certainly benefited from the ease of payments for small amounts with contactless technology. It’s becoming a more popular payment method for amounts under the £20 limit. Customers popping in for a spot of lunch that may be limited to a one-hour break time can be served, and pay quickly with a simple tap of their card, cutting our queue time and the amount of people waiting for their drink during the lunchtime rush.”

Note to editors:

Results are based on an online survey carried out by research agency OnePoll. 2000 UK consumers were surveyed via online questionnaire.

Visa contactless payments are very secure and certainly much more secure than carrying cash. Visa contactless cards use the same secure technology as Chip and PIN and have a maximum purchase amount of £20 per transaction. From time to time, cardholders are asked to enter their PIN to verify they are the genuine cardholder. Importantly, cardholders benefit from Visa’s promise that if a Visa card is lost or stolen, they are protected against fraud loss – providing they take reasonable precautions to protect their card and let their bank know as soon as they realise it’s gone.

Contactless Facts

  • Using a contactless card is the fast and convenient way to pay for everyday purchases that are under £20
  • 1 in 4 people in the UK already have a contactless card
  • There are now over 317,000 terminals accepting contactless payments in the UK
  • You can pay with contactless cards in retailers including Boots, Tesco, McDonalds, Costa Coffee, Waitrose and Greggs
  • Workers can also pay for their commute using contactless payments anywhere across the Transport for London network
  • More than £1 billion was spent on contactless cards in the 12 months to June 2014 in the UK
  • Over 160 million contactless purchases were made in the 12 months to June 2014 in the UK