Skip to main content

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — A pair of recent studies looking at what consumers like and dislike about retail shopping experiences showed that high on the “dislike” list are dirty stores, but retailers fare better when they meet their customers online and offer them good deals.

First, a study compiled by Harris Interactive in collaboration with Cintas Corporation lists the biggest turn-offs for American shoppers, and dirty restrooms and poor appearances of staff are at the top of that list.

Far and away, the most negative responses (99%) identified dirty and unkempt stores as creating a negative impression of a store. At the top of that section were messy restrooms with “unpleasant odors,” survey respondents noted.

“If shoppers are unsatisfied with the cleanliness of a retail store, they will take their business elsewhere,” said Dave Mesko, senior director of marketing at Cintas.

Top grievances related to the “cleanliness” of the stores run the gamut:

Complaint                                      % Reported

Unclean Restrooms                              95%

Unpleasant Odor                                  92%

Poor Customer Service                         90%

Dirty Floors                                           86%

TheStreet Recommends

Dirty Shopping Carts                            84%

Poor Staff Appearance                         83%

Spills or Stains                                     81%

On the more positive side of things, another study from Foresee Results found that retailers are doing a much better job of reaching out to customers with special deals, especially via mobile communications.

The Foresee study shows also that consumers are using mobile phones to access retail store deals more than ever before: 33% of respondents said they have used a cell phone to visit a store's website, and another 26% say they plan to do so in the future.

“It looks like more than half of all shoppers will soon be using their mobile phones for retail purposes,” says Kevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy at Foresee Results and the lead author of the study. “Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors.”

Another emerging trend is the actual purchase of products and services via cell phone. Although only 11% of survey respondents said they had made a purchase on their mobile devices during the 2010 holiday season, that’s way ahead of the 2% who reported the same activity in 2009, Foresee reports.

But retailers should be warned: Consumers are also finding it easy to check out the competition’s website at your actual store location. If the price isn’t right, or the service is slow, shoppers are increasingly willing to let their fingers do the clicking to see if there’s a better deal down the street. Overall, 46% of survey respondents say they have tapped onto a competitor’s website while on store premises.

So it’s good news and bad news for retailers these days. Shoppers don’t want any part of dirty stores, but if you clean up nice, and throw in some bargains via cell phones and the Internet, chances are those shoppers will give you a good shot at their business.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at