75 things you should know about your stores: No.24 “Idle Time”

The capacity exists to understand every detail of your stores, the way that customers move around them, are attracted to assortment displays, are tempted into touching product and are compelled to convert their engagement into sales.

An incredible journey is just beginning!



No.24. “Idle Time”

Just as music is defined by the silence between notes, the life of a store is equally about what doesn’t happen as much as what does, because here lay the opportunities.
In the clamour for knowledge of what is happening we lose sight of what is not.

Idle Time is simply the time that nothing happens within a space.

That space can be as large as a whole department or as small as a shelf space. It is within the choice of every retailer to define what level to explore.

Our first investigation is whether this Idle Time is expected or not, potentially beneficial or fundamentally undesirable. We can optimise the Idle Time or we can try to minimise and eradicate it.

Our answer lays in comparing a variety of data sources and the evidence of our eyes. Is the Idle Time linked to a destination category with low traffic but high conversion, or to a potentially high traffic area with middle or high conversion.

Idle Time in high traffic areas is simply an opportunity to drive traffic and sales. We need to explore the store layout, the visual display and the ease of shop to ensure that the store itself is not generating this Idle Time.

What are the patterns of our Idle Time through the day and week. Are the patterns logical and ones we can utilise for re-stocking of shelves or maintenance of displays? Are the patterns unexpected and caused by bottlenecks or poor visibility?

We need to act to address these issues!
We need to define and prioritise our actions!


  • utilise idle time for replenishment and maintenance?
  • utilise idle space for staff training and product interaction?
  • optimise idle space for service and customer engagement activities?
  • channel staff movements from idle spaces at idle times?
  • define spatially occurring idle spaces for location of appropriate categories?
  • increase traffic to unexpected idle space?
  • improve signage directing customers to idle space?
  • improve product display impact to attract customers to idle space?
  • remove and rotate ranges to maximise idle spaces and create attraction?
  • Create events and marketing to drive traffic to idle spaces?
  • Develop timed events to avoid idle times in key departments?


For most retailers the large and obvious improvements to store sales improvements have already been made.
There are no big and easy answers!

However our stores are made up of a myriad of individual actions, a myriad of opportunities to improve.

The incremental benefits of many increases can be sizable…
10{9a7291a7292e83c5148384adada0c82317c2655f4bcb859b5345564a4c272287} may sound modest, but who wouldn’t want to add that to the bottom line sales?


For information on how to find out more about what is happening in your stores, and how to use this knowledge to increase your sales performance and efficiency, download the report on VMAnalytics.

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