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The QLess Blog

Gone in 6 minutes: average queuing time UK shoppers are willing to wait

Aug 01 By Alex Bäcker | Categories: Retail

On average Brits will wait just under six minutes in a shop queue before they walk out. That's according to a survey conducted as part of an investigation by Omnico into the effect of queues on retailers' businesses. The survey also found that over half (56%) of Britons would be less likely to return to a store if they'd had a bad queuing experience, with men more likely than women to hold a bad queuing experience against a store (58% versus 55% respectively).

These results come from research of 1,344 UK consumers to find out how patient people in Britain are when it comes to queuing in store. The average time across the UK for shoppers to wait in a queue until they 'abandon basket' is 5 minutes 54 seconds.

Amongst major towns and cities in the UK, the least patient is Plymouth, with locals only willing to wait an average of 4 minutes 55 seconds before leaving the store. Liverpool is the most patient city in the UK with shoppers willing to wait 6 minutes 47 seconds. Londoners are the fourth most impatient, only willing to wait 5 minutes 44 seconds.

Only 19% of people said that they would never abandon their basket regardless of how long they'd been waiting in a queue. On the flip side, 16% refuse to wait more than three minutes before walking out.

On average younger people queue for longer periods of time than older people, with shoppers aged 16-24 willing to wait for up to 6 minutes 9 seconds, whilst shoppers aged 55+ are only prepared to wait for 5 minutes 46 seconds. However, despite the younger generation being more willing to wait longer, they are the most likely group to be badly affected by a queuing experience with 59% saying they wouldn't return to a store as a result.

Commenting on the research, Mark Rackley, Chartered Psychologist commented: "These findings reflect a concept known as Heuristics, which is decision making based on past experience. When it comes to queuing, people use previous experiences to decide whether they will stay in the queue or leave it. In today's society when people can buy things within a matter of a few clicks or swipes, without having to wait, they may use a Heuristic and conclude that queuing is inconvenient and thus choose to walk-away. Based on this behaviour and as people increasingly experience instantaneous payment, queuing tolerance levels are likely to continue to decrease."

"Queuing is a pet hate of many people in the UK and our research revealed the detrimental impact it has on retailers, both in terms of abandoned baskets and long term loyalty," said Bill Henry, CEO at Omnico. "Retailers who focus on preventing abandoned baskets and customer walk-aways will see the compelling benefits to their bottom line."

Mobile queue management technologies are being used by leading retailers, from Kiddicare to T-Mobile and from Tourneau to Fleet Feet, to increase the number of customers with the patience to wait. The results: 12% to 20% more sales by reducing abandonment.

Below is the full list of the top 20 UK cities and the average times that locals are willing to queue for before leaving the store.


Average Queue time before walkout


4 minutes 55 seconds


4 minutes 56 seconds


5 minutes 15 seconds


5 minutes 44 seconds


5 minutes 47 seconds


5 minutes 48 seconds


5 minutes 51 seconds


5 minutes 59 seconds


6 minutes 2 seconds


6 minutes 3 seconds


6 minutes 6 seconds


6 minutes 13 seconds


6 minutes 21 seconds


6 minutes 25 seconds


6 minutes 26 seconds


6 minutes 32 seconds


6 minutes 47 seconds

Source: IT News Online

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