Retail Crowding (03-12-21)

Blut and Iyer investigated the implications of retail crowding.  They determined via a meta-analysis of previously published studies that spatial crowding, which is tied to the physical features of a space, such as the space available to a person and the form of that space, degrades store evaluations while human crowding, or the perceived number of people in a store and impressions of the interactions of those people, enhances those assessments: “Managers should also examine if their retail or service setting is perceived as hedonic [pleasure-related], and whether attracting more customers into their store would have positive impacts on customer responses. . . . Some retail types, such as those with predominantly utilitarian offerings (e.g., grocery stores) benefit less from human crowding. . . . greater use of in-store technologies (self-service checkouts, robotic assistance) to ease checkout and exiting the store may alleviate crowding perceptions. . . . impacts of crowding on some outcomes are affected by whether the environment is perceived as competitive or cooperative, retailers could encourage greater interactions between customers to create a more cooperative environment. An example of the latter is seating arrangements in neighborhood coffee shops and diners where proximity may foster a cooperative environment.”

Markus Blut and Gopalkrishnan Iyer. “Consequences of Perceived Crowding: A Meta-Analytical Perspective.”  Journal of Retailing, vol. 96, no. 3, pp. 362-382, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2019.11.007