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A new survey suggests that more than half of respondents said that in the past 12 months, they've actually walked out of stores where they intended to purchase items because the lines were too long.   Of those, the survey says, "84 percent said they have done so at least twice in the last year alone" and "80 percent of shoppers said since the pandemic they have had to stand in line more often when shopping in a retail store."

It is a phenomenon retailers are aware of - 92 percent of retailers admitted "that wait times at busy periods have had a negative impact on their companies’ revenues."

These lines, according to the survey, are at least in part are being created by the tight labor market, with two-third of retail respondents saying that they believe that the combination of lost shoppers and higher labor costs are impacting their bottom lines.

However, "only 14 percent of retailers are planning to address the issues with additional hiring … 45% have reduced opening hours (e.g. eliminating early or late shifts) on an ongoing basis … 41% have executed a short-term temporary closure (e.g. at least a few hours) of at least one of its stores … 26% have canceled expansion plans (e.g. the opening a new store) … (and) 21% have permanently closed stores including 9% who have closed multiple stores."

Technology, the survey suggests, "is the most favored solution with 79 percent planning to implement either self-checkout (47%) or checkout-free (32%) to win back consumers who are tired of friction-filled in-store experiences."

The survey was commissioned by checkout-free technology company Zippin and conducted by market research company 3Gem.

KC's View:

To be clear, it isn't surprising that a company like Zippin would be behind a survey with these kinds of results - but that doesn't make the results any less legitimate or the concerns any less alarming.

The thing is, technology probably will be seen by many retailers as a preferred solution because it is more sustainable - hiring people takes more time and is a less reliable approach, simply because many of those people can leave.

MNB readers won't be surprised that I'm a big believer in these technological solutions, and have been since I went to my first Amazon Go store back in 2018.  Since then, I've interviewed senior executives at checkout-free tech companies Zippin and Standard AI, and while the trend has not accelerated as fast as some thought it might (in late 2018, Amazon foresaw as many as 3,000 Go stores, which was, shall we say, overly ambitious), I still think at some point checkout-free will be as ubiquitous as scanning.