Queues, flaps and footfall at Stansted Airport

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

This Blog comes to you from London Stansted Airport, never the most inspirational experience and certainly not at 6.30 in the morning.

At least the security queue was working better this morning than during my last visit, but that’s more than can be said for the queuing system at the WHSmith store (below). 


Wanting to buy a newspaper I was immediately deterred by a queue of 30 people, despite there being at least 4 shop assistants on hand.

The queuing system resembles one of those computer games where you direct your little man along a line, then up a line, then around a curve, to try to avoid the bad guys. Except here you’re not trying to avoid anyone – you’re simply trying to give the retailer money.

I eventually took the plunge. The queue moved quickly (the staff were efficient and friendly) but it still took me around three minutes to complete my transaction.

In that time frame I watched to see how many would-be shoppers walked away when they saw the length of the queue. I counted 10. By my reckoning that’s a loss of a potentially incremental +33% in sales. And that’s not good business.

But WH Smith is a beacon to customer service and retail excellence compared with the distinctly unappealing Hamleys toy store along the way.

I know I criticised one of the same company’s Heathrow stores pretty harshly recently but I feel my comments were more than justified. And based on today’s experience, the store is fast becoming my nemesis.

On second thoughts, make that Nemo-sis. Besides all those truly maddening flying toy animals buzzing around the place, the store currently features a flapping plastic fish in a tank resembling a giant bucket outside the entrance .

Alongside it (pictured below), remarkably, is a yellow warning sign: ‘Hamleys – caution – wet floor’. I wonder why…


If the fish are in such a flap, what chance do the poor consumers have? 

This could bring a new dimension to the term footfall. Would you, pre your travels, brave the entrance to this store?

It’s enough to send Nemo to a premature watery grave.

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