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‘Tis the Season for Holiday Shopping Headaches – Survey Finds Shoppers Look to Self-Service for Relief


Self-service options, including gift card kiosks, product locaters and self-return devices, offer convenience and time savings for holiday shoppers

ATLANTA – As stores prepare for the holiday rush, shoppers are bracing for the headaches and hassles of long lines, crowded aisles and harried store associates. The solution, according to a recent survey, includes the convenience of self-service. The majority of U.S. consumers, 64 percent, believe the holiday shopping experience would be faster and less frustrating if more retail stores offered self-service to shorten wait times.

Conducted for NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), a global leader in self-checkout and other self-service technologies, by Opinion Research Corp., the survey asked consumers to evaluate their frustrations with holiday shopping and rate how self-service could bring more cheer.

“We’re witnessing a transition in how consumers want to be served, and it involves gaining more personal control of the shopping experience,” said Mike Webster, vice president and general manager, NCR Self-Service Solutions. “During peak shopping periods like the holiday season, consumers are adamant that the best customer service includes self-service.”

When asked to identify the self-service options that could help alleviate holiday shopping frustrations, product locator kiosks topped the list at 68 percent. Not far behind was self-service return of gifts or purchases (66 percent), followed by self-service gift card kiosks (63 percent), Internet purchasing (59 percent) and self-service checkout (57 percent).

The survey found that 57 percent of consumers are interested in visiting retail stores that offer self-service for the purpose of improving customer service. This trend is likely to increase, as indicated by the 72 percent of young adult consumers (aged 18 to 24) who in particular look to self-service to improve the holiday shopping experience.

Gift return is also a top concern among holiday shoppers, with 64 percent of consumers citing the ease of returns as somewhat or very important. In fact, over half of consumers (57 percent) noted that during the holiday season, they would prefer to shop at stores that offer a self-service solution to handle returns.

The biggest ‘bah-humbug’?

When asked what frustrates them the most during the holiday season, the majority of consumers (52 percent) cited long checkout lines. Other top frustrations include the time it takes to locate items (14 percent), poor staff service (10 percent) and inadequately stocked shelves (9 percent).

Mass merchandising stores are home to the most frustrating shopping experiences during the holidays (38 percent), followed by clothing stores (20 percent), toy stores (15 percent), grocery stores (14 percent) and specialty shops (6 percent).

Gift cards top holiday shopping lists

Gift cards are popular during the holiday season, providing flexibility to both the gift giver and receiver. Last year, according to a survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation, gift card expenditures in 2006 reached over $24 billion. In fact, two-thirds of consumers will purchase at least one gift card during the holiday season. Of those purchasers, consumers on average will buy more than seven gift cards per year.

“Gift cards are one of the most popular gifts during the holidays. However, shoppers find they still have to wait in the same long lines to purchase and load gift cards,” said Webster. “This survey shows that the majority of consumers believe self-service gift card kiosks can alleviate holiday shopping frustrations. Retailers who listen will benefit from providing the speed and convenience this service affords.”

When asked which factors influenced the decision to purchase a gift card as opposed to another item from a store, shoppers cite not knowing what gift to purchase (71 percent). Nearly half of all consumers also reported purchasing gift cards to avoid returns (47 percent), and another 45 percent purchased gift cards because it takes less time than selecting a gift.

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a global technology company leading how the world connects, interacts and transacts with business. NCR’s assisted- and self-service solutions and comprehensive support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, gaming and public sector organizations in more than 100 countries. NCR ( is headquartered in Dayton, Ohio.

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NCR is a trademark of NCR Corporation in the United States and other countries.


This report presents the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,020 adults comprising 511 men and 509 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this CARAVAN® Survey was completed during the period October 18-21, 2007.

If you would like a more detailed summary of the survey findings – or if you need photos or video footage of consumers using self-service technologies – please call or e-mail one of the public relations contacts identified on this news release.

Media contact(s):

Jon Riethmaier
Brand Resources Group for NCR
(678) 996-2014


 NCR Corporation
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