MAGAZINE: Could fast and slow walking lanes introduced in UK towns and cities?

Newly released research sees nearly a fifth of UK adults admitting they avoid their high street or town centre altogether because being held up on the street frustrates them so much.

Fast and slow walking lanes?
Fast and slow walking lanes?

In fact, our impatience is such that 45% of UK shoppers say they would support the introduction of a pedestrian fast lane in their town centre.

This rises to 47% in Liverpool where, today, a trial fast lane has been installed for busy shoppers who want to get things done quickly.

The small scale lane is designed to give shoppers a sense of what benefits a larger fast lane roll out could bring. Of those people who were keen to see a fast lane introduced, perhaps unsurprisingly 16-24 year olds were most keen (69%), compared to just 37% of those aged 55+.

The top reasons for supporting the fast lane included not wanting to waste time – shoppers want to buy what they need and get away again quickly and because they don’t shop for pleasure.

According to the survey, the top three things shoppers find annoying about shopping in stores on the high street/in retail parks/shopping centres are waiting in long queues to pay (41%), rude staff (38%) and groups of people who walk alongside each other blocking the pavement (31%). More than a quarter of people (27%) said people dawdling in front of them when they were in a rush was amongst the most annoying things, whilst 18% cited people stopping in front of them to check their phones.

And it seems women have the shortest fuse when it comes to queueing – they’re more likely to find this the most annoying part of shopping in stores. But is it girls’ shopping trips that are getting to the men, who find groups on the pavement blocking the way more annoying than their female counterparts do? Yet far more women supported the idea of a fast lane to avoid being held up, with 50% of women in favour compared to 39% of men.

When asked what would improve their shopping experience, alongside a pedestrian fast lane, shoppers said more cashiers so they don’t have to wait in line (44%), lockers to drop off bags while they shopped (22%), price comparison machines alongside products (17%) and same day delivery services (17%).

The research conducted by Argos to coincide with the the launch of its new Fast Track services also asked people to predict what the high street will look like in 50 years’ time. Top predictions included the high street being full of showrooms with all our purchasing done online; the internet linking our wardrobes, fridges, kitchens and cupboards to all our favourite shops so everything is delivered before we even know we need it; and electronic trollies.

So would your town benefit from a fast lane? And what else would you like to see introduced to make your shopping trips easier and more enjoyable?