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41% of Shoppers Say In-Store Experiences Are “Less Enjoyable” Since Covid

Consumers lack patience in physical stores, new survey suggests.

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monkeybusinessimages, iStock
monkeybusinessimages, iStock

While a solid majority of consumers continue to do most of their shopping in-store, the recent holiday shopping season highlighted several key warning signs for retailers seeking to earn back customers. Those findings are included in a new survey by Theatro, a provider of a mobile communications platform for frontline workers.

With consumers coming back to physical retail stores in full force in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, Theatro decided to survey U.S. consumers to ask them about their in-store experiences. The company timed the study to take place in January 2023, with the most recent holiday shopping season still fresh in shoppers’ minds.

The survey found that many Americans believe the quality of the in-store experience has declined since 2019—the last year before the Covid lockdowns that began in March 2020. In the study, 41 percent of respondents said their shopping experiences are “less enjoyable” than they were prior to Covid, with 64 percent citing poorly trained or prepared retail staff and 60 percent blaming inadequate staffing levels.

The responses suggest that retailers still struggle with chronic staffing issues, as they have since emerging from the pandemic. But the results also indicate that customer expectations for speed, convenience and getting answers to their questions quickly have increased because of their increased use of e-commerce sites during the pandemic.

“Consumers prefer physical retail for a lot of reasons, such as the ability to see and feel products before buying them, and the immediate gratification of taking a product home,” said Theatro CEO Chris Todd. “But they’ve also become more accustomed to the advantages of e-commerce, such as avoiding long lines and having an almost infinite amount of product information at their fingertips.

“This makes them more impatient with the in-store experience. The survey suggests that retailers must respond to these heightened expectations or suffer the consequences of decreased shopper satisfaction and, ultimately, sales.”

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Working with the third-party survey platform Pollfish, the Theatro survey involved asking 600 U.S. adults to share their experiences and views on the current state of in-store retail.

Click here for the full survey results.

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