According to a new survey from New York-based Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, many consumers said they were unable to buy, or chose not to buy, a product because of poor customer service, a confusing store layout, or the item they wanted was out of stock this holiday season.

The survey, which polled 1,100 consumers between the ages of 18 and 74, was conducted as an online questionnaire by an independent research firm on Jan. 9 and 10, 2007.

Of the respondents, 64 per cent said the item or size they were looking for was out of stock, 57 per cent said the line at the register was too long, 52 per cent said a sales associate was not readily available to help them and 32 per cent said a sales associate could not answer the question they asked. In the survey, more than a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents said they walked out of a store without buying because the store layout was too confusing.

The survey also showed that two-thirds (66 per cent) of store visits this holiday season were not influenced by marketing and advertising. Most consumers said that they shopped in specific stores because they were familiar with the store or they were passing by, not because of advertisements, sale notices, e-mail reminders, or other advertising or marketing. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents purchased online this holiday season, and virtually all (95 per cent) said that their online experiences were positive. In addition, approximately two-thirds (63 per cent) of consumers surveyed did an online search for product or store information before visiting a store. Almost half of consumers (48 per cent) read online consumer-written product reviews, at either a retailer site or a non-affiliated site to help decide whether to buy a product, or which product to buy; virtually all (90 per cent) of these said that the reviews were helpful in making a purchase decision.