Independent retailers quizzed by The Grocer are generally very happy with the service provided by National Lottery operator Camelot and many wish that other suppliers to the sector could perform the same way.
The exclusive survey found that 84% of shop owners felt Camelot did a good job and that customer service was exemplary. Asked to describe the service offered by the lottery operator, retailers used words and phrases such as & 'brilliant', 'superb', and 'always willing to help'.
One retailer in Manchester felt that if the Post Office helpline worked anywhere near as effectively as the Camelot helpline, then problems in her store would be halved. "I wish others would be as efficient as Camelot," said another retailer based in Wolverhampton.
Although the majority of retailers contacted were very happy with Camelot and three quarters were relaxed about targets, a quarter were still unhappy with the sales targets the company sets for the National Lottery. And this is despite the fact that targets were lowered dramatically last year.
Camelot dropped minimum weekly sales requirements to £1,000 from the previous £1,400. It was felt at the time that these changes to the sales targets Camelot sets for retailers would result in fewer stores having their terminals withdrawn for not selling enough tickets ('Camelot terms to change', The Grocer, July 30, 2005, p8).
Asked if shoppers visited their stores primarily to buy National Lottery tickets, many retailers felt this was a tough question to answer. "I can certainly think of a few individuals that come in purely for Lottery tickets but, as these people often buy other things at other times, it is hard to say," said a retailer in Glasgow.
Just less than 40% of retailers felt that customers came in primarily for Lottery tickets but the majority felt the Lottery was just part of their shop's attraction for customers. "I do think it is vital to offer Lottery tickets to customers," said one retailer in the south west.
Unsurprisingly, given the high customer satisfaction, most retailers would like Camelot to retain its licence for the National Lottery. Eight out of ten retailers were happy for this to happen. "They are a tried and tested operator and I don't see that they have any problems," said one.
Some did feel that an operator that gave more of the Lottery money to charity would be more desirable.