customer shopping motivation, retail environment, atmospherics, servicescapes

Document Type

Proceedings Paper



How Customer Shopping Motivation Influences Perceived Design of the Retail Environment

Previous research shows that the decisions retailers make about the retail environment influence the amount of time customers spend in retail stores and the total amount of money spent in the retail store (Turley & Milliman 2000). One recent example of a retailer’s efforts to influence customers through the retail environment is Walmart’s Project Impact. In 2009, Walmart embarked on a five year plan to remodel seventy percent of its stores (Gregory 2009). Based on feedback from customers, Walmart sought to change several aspects of the retail environment, including reducing clutter, reducing crowding, wider aisles, clearer sight lines, brighter stores, better layout and a more logical grouping of merchandise (Gregory). Even though Walmart developed Project Impact based on feedback from customers, the initiative is now seen as a failure (Dawson 2011). Shortly after initiating the changes, Walmart experienced two years of negative same store sales while competitors experienced same store growth (Dawson). Some retail analysts believe that a cluttered and crowded store is interpreted by customers as having more bargains (Dawson), so the changes to Walmart’s retail environment may have changed customer’s assessments of Walmart’s pricing. This practical example mirrors insights gained from academic research.