A survey of UK shoppers by Live & Breathe, a retail marketing agency, found that about half of those polled had been looking forward to visiting a particular shop, only to find that the publicised products weren't available. 44% said they'd been disappointed by the quality of products in store, and 38% said the staff had failed miserably to live up the shop's carefully-crafted image.
So what exactly is putting people off? Long queues were, as you can imagine, the biggest turn-off, cited by 48% of respondents (and 50% of women) - we're much less willing to stand around for the privilege of spending our money than we once were. Others moaned about crowded shopping floors and invisible/ unhelpful staff. Indeed, given all of these gripes, it's hardly surprising that more people are shopping online, where we have no such problems.
It's not just a waste of the (possibly expensive) marketing effort that got these people into the store in the first place. If people come in and are disappointed, it'll not only be very difficult to convince them to come back, but they're also far more likely to tell other people how underwhelming you were (thus creating a multiplier effect).
And the disappointing thing about these results is that many of these problems are avoidable; if queues are enormous, or there aren't enough staff around to help, then clearly the retailer has got staffing levels wrong - and they're likely to lose money as a result. Marketing promises are the easy bit; it's living up to those promises that really sets the good retailers apart.