Data on retail dwell times

June 29, 2007 by Dave Haynes

I came across research this morning from the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, a trade organization for all those companies that send people into stores looking at things like pricing and service quality.

The group has done a survey that breaks down wait times at cash in several categories, across the major cities in the U.S.

There are people out there who really do care that it takes three seconds more to get a Whopper in Boston than it does in Detroit. But I’m not one of them.

What I did find useful in the 2006 Wait Time Survey was the breakdown of average times:

“Not surprisingly, gas station convenience stores were the fastest category, with the typical customer wait averaging 2.17. Convenience stores were followed by fast food restaurants (3.16) and sit-down restaurants (3.28). Retail categories scored the worst, starting with department store average wait times (5.23) followed by outlet stores (5.11) and clothing stores (4.55).

Waits get worse for consumers later in the day. The slowest time for consumers is between 2 and 5 p.m. (average wait is 4.22), followed by 5 to 8 p.m. (4.20) and 8 to 11 p.m. (4.03). 5 to 8 a.m. is best (2.40), followed by 8 to 11 a.m. (3.36) and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (4.02).”

This is relevant stuff if you have a network that is focused on checkout areas at retail or menu boards in fast food. Ideally, the duration of your content loop should match up pretty closely with the average wait time. If you are selling a 15-minute cycle of ads in a c-store, and the average wait time is 2 minutes and 17 seconds, fit your ad sales people for tap dancing shoes.

  1. Stephen says:

    Very interesting numbers… and another reason to put screens in stores but not at the checkout.

    Poor Baltimore! Lots and lots of waiting. Maybe there is something in the crabcakes.

Leave a comment