Shoppers are becoming less happy with the service they receive in Hong Kong, with most complaints about long waiting times and a lack of salespeople, according to the latest survey of customers by Polytechnic University.
The findings show the customers' perceived-value index has continued to fall since peaking in the second half of 2006.
The index is based on customers' responses to questions about prices, service, the shop environment, quality of merchandise and the effort that customers need to exert to get the service they want, including waiting times and problems with communication barriers.
The latest survey was conducted between January and March this year, with 2,640 questionnaires completed by local, mainland and overseas shoppers.
The rating for the effort that customers need to exert reached a new low of 83.3, compared with the 100 baseline in the first survey in July- August 2004. However, other areas such as prices, service, the shopping environment and quality of merchandise have improved slightly.
Sherriff Luk Ting-kwong, director of the Asian Centre for Brand Management, said the research showed there had been significant increases in the number of visitors and retail sales but a very small increase in the number of salespeople.
He said that having insufficient frontline staff meant customers had to wait longer to get a changing room or needed to ask a few more times to get additional information about products.
Dr Luk said retailers were reluctant to hire more people when rents and other operating costs were increasing.
Mainland shoppers continue to splurge, with average spending of HK$2,862 in the latest survey, up 27.8 per cent from the previous survey in July-August last year.
Dr Luk said the rising value of the yuan had encouraged mainland shoppers to splurge on jewellery, especially gold, and consumer electronics. He said the rising values of some other currencies had also encouraged some overseas shoppers to spend more.
The customers' perceived value index stood at 100.5 in phase 5 of the survey, conducted in July-August 2006
In phase 8, conducted between January and March this year, it fell to 98.1
Source: Polytechnic University