If I’m looking to buy something and I’m not sure if the item is in stock, then the logical thing to do is to call the store in advance and check to see if they have one on the shelf ready to go. I won’t do that though, unless I’m absolutely certain the business has some amazing IT and operations management.
Back in the day I worked at Bunnings, and I was occasionally on the receiving end of those calls. Many stores like Bunnings and department stores have those kinds of enquiry calls answered directly by sales folks on the shop floor. I would normally have a queue of customers following me around the reticulation section at Bunnings looking for help when I had to answer those calls, and I’d have to put up the huffy looks while I prioritised a phone customer over a customer standing right in front of me (as was the policy).
Worst scenario, the item wouldn’t be in stock and the customer on the phone would ask me to call another store to see if the item was in stock there. So now there are two people serving one phone customer, and two huffy customers giving the Bunnings employee dirty looks. So I’m not going to call ahead and cause a situation like that — I’ll turn up and take my chances.
If the business has excellent operations management (full IT support for stock control and the stock auditing processes to go with that) then I’ll call them for sure — but that’s only because they can have someone centrally receiving all those calls and reading the in-store stock levels out of database, without distracting the sales team on the shop floor.