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Pre-holiday shopping in shopping centers. What makes consumers feel comfortable?

COMMERCEPre-holiday shopping in shopping centers. What makes consumers feel comfortable?

As the peak shopping season begins, the company Cushman & Wakefield has investigated the emotions experienced by consumers during shopping.

In recent years, discussions about attracting customers in retail have revolved around the term “UX” (User Experience) – the methods of examining and building customer experiences. However, nothing tests the emotions and well-being of consumers more than the festive frenzy and visits to shopping centres. According to a survey by the international consultancy firm Cushman & Wakefield, titled “Shopping Season of Emotions”, the comfort of visiting a commercial property for 42% of the surveyed Poles depends on music and sounds, for 41% the decor is important, and for 38% – lighting. At the same time, over 40% of those surveyed admitted that they feel irritation during shopping due to overcrowding and noise. These are important tips for owners and managers who care about creating optimal conditions conducive to positive shopping experiences.

Key findings from the study, which should be considered when organising the work of a shopping centre:

– 42% of surveyed Poles pointed out that music and sounds are the leading elements affecting customer comfort during pre-holiday shopping.

– As many as 46% of the surveyed Poles admit that they regularly or often feel irritated during visits to commercial properties, and at least sometimes as many as 81% of respondents. Women more often than men want to move to a quieter place during shopping – this was the response of 41% of women and 33% of men.

– Elements that help build friendly experiences for shopping centre customers, apart from music, are primarily: interior décor, clear signage and information, and lighting.

Despite the relatively high inflation rate of 6.5% in November, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, retail sales in constant prices (in real terms) recorded a growth of 2.8% year-on-year. Greater appetites of shoppers is good news for retail chains, for whom the pre-holiday period is a long-awaited, if not the most important moment in the shopping calendar.

The beginning of December is a time when a lot of attention is paid to projected expenditure on Christmas shopping or the size of shopping baskets. Meanwhile, little is said about the softer aspect of this Christmas consumer fever, namely the emotions that accompany our visits to stores and shopping centres. Larger crowds, emotional situations, a large accumulation of stimuli – all this affects the mood and comfort of shoppers. We decided to take a closer look at this issue in the latest Cushman & Wakefield study. The findings from our survey provide an interesting insight into how shopping centres can enhance the comfort of customers even during Christmas shopping, comments Ewa Derlatka-Chilewicz, Head of Research, Cushman & Wakefield.

Taking Care of Pre-Holiday Comfort

The emotions of retail customers are greatly influenced by stimuli, the intensity of which increases during the pre-holiday shopping period. Many of them may result from the competition of stores and brands for the customer’s attention, which indeed gives customers a choice but can also overwhelm more sensitive people. Owners and managers of commercial properties can take care of consumers’ diverse needs by ensuring the optimal organisation of shared spaces.

Music and sounds top the list of elements affecting customer comfort during pre-holiday shopping, pointed out by 42% of surveyed Poles. Slightly less, 41% of respondents, drew attention to the interior décor, and 38% to the lighting. An important tip for managers is that, in addition to sensory stimuli, for almost one third of the respondents the quality of shopping property signage is also important. Clear, intuitive layout of the property and easy access to important information can be invaluable help for consumers during periods of higher traffic, explains Michał Masztakowski, Head of Retail Agency, Cushman & Wakefield.

At the same time, the results of the Cushman & Wakefield survey indicate that the emotions we feel when buying gifts or treats for the Christmas table can be a significant challenge and simply cause discomfort.

As many as 46% of the surveyed Poles admit that they regularly or often feel irritated during visits to commercial properties, and at least sometimes as many as 81% of respondents. The reason is excessive overcrowding. There’s nothing strange about this – data from Cushman & Wakefield shows that in December last year, shopping centres and retail parks saw average monthly traffic of over half a million people per facility. Such a number of customers can make many of us dizzy. Therefore, it’s worth preparing quieter, more subdued zones where you can sit for a while, rest, think about what else we have on the shopping list, says Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz, Head of Marketing, Asset Services at Cushman & Wakefield.

The second most frequently indicated stimulus, which also influences potential irritation, is excessive noise, which 42% of respondents often experience, and at least occasionally over three-quarters of respondents. Third place was occupied by exposure to too many strong stimuli at once, often felt by 37% of respondents, and at least occasionally – by almost 70%.

“Quiet hours, relaxation places, adjusting the intensity of lighting and temperature – these are examples of actions that allow minimising negative stimuli for visitors to shopping centres, which we recommend to owners in our management work,” adds Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.

Women More Prone to Over-Stimulation

The preferences of shopping centre guests are also influenced by their gender. In the Cushman & Wakefield study, we read that women are more likely than men to be prone to over-stimulation – 41% of them often or always feel it during visits to shopping centres. For comparison, among men, this is 31%. Another example of greater exposure to stimuli is fatigue from noise in shopping centres – this is often or always experienced by 47% of female respondents and 34% of men.

A good way for those tired of the pre-holiday bustle to catch their breath may be to move to a quieter place – nearly 4 in 10 respondents declare this, with 41% of women experiencing greater needs in this respect compared to 33% of men.

Comfort under Special Supervision

What can provide significant support for consumers visiting commercial properties at the peak of the shopping season?

At the top of the list is the issue of low congestion, indicated by almost half of the surveyed Poles. “Those of us who are trying to avoid crowds like the plague should visit shopping facilities in the morning hours when traffic is lowest,” explains Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.

Closely following the number of visitors is the appropriate temperature in the facility (47%), good communication with the place of residence and intuitive distribution of shops and services (45% each).

About the Study

The “Shopping Season of Emotions” study was conducted by ARC Rynek i Opinia on behalf of Cushman & Wakefield in September 2023 on a group of 513 Poles, including 504 users of shopping spaces. The study was conducted using the CAWI method (a professional online form). The study aimed to understand how Poles practical use of shopping spaces, as well as to understand the emotions and attitudes associated with this. The preparation of surveys and analysis of survey results were jointly responsible by experts from Cushman & Wakefield and dat:awesome by Linkleaders.

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