UX (user experience) has in recent years been a buzzword in discussions about attracting retail customers. However, nothing puts consumers’ emotions and wellbeing to the test more than the pre-Christmas frenzy and visits to shopping centres. According to global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield’s retail customer experience survey Handlowy sezon emocji, 42% of Polish respondents say that their shopping experience is impacted by sound and music, with 41% and 38% citing the interior design and lighting in a shopping centre respectively. Over 40% of the surveyed respondents say that they are irritated by crowds and noise when shopping. These are important insights for property landlords and managers responsible for creating optimal conditions that will drive positive shopping experiences.
Key survey findings to consider in making plans for operational performance of shopping centres:
- Sound and music are top of the list of factors impacting a consumer experience when shopping for Christmas, as indicated by 42% of Polish respondents.
- 46% of respondents regularly or frequently feel irritated in shopping centres, with 81% experiencing that feeling sometimes.
- 41% of women would prefer to go to a quieter place when shopping versus 33% of men.
- Elements contributing a positive customer experience in shopping centres include, in addition to music, the interior design, clear signage and markings, as well as lighting.
Despite a relatively high inflation rate of 6.5% in November, retail sales in constant prices (in real terms) rose by 2.8% year-on-year at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2023. This greater appetite to spend is good news for retailers for whom the run-up to Christmas is an important if not by far the biggest event in their retail calendar.
“In the early days of December a lot of attention is paid to forecasts of Christmas spending or the size of shopping baskets. Meanwhile, there is little talk of the softer aspect of the Christmas shopping fever, that is consumer emotions during visits to retail stores and shopping centres. Crowds, excitement and overwhelming stimuli are all impacting shoppers’ feelings and comfort. We have decided to take a closer look at this in our latest research. The findings of Cushman & Wakefield’s survey provide a valuable insight into how shopping centres could enhance the customer experience in the pre-Christmas shopping rush,” comments Ewa Derlatka-Chilewicz, Head of Research, Cushman & Wakefield.
Ensure a comfortable pre-Christmas experience
Shoppers’ feelings are strongly impacted by stimuli which appear to become more intense in the run-up to Christmas and frequently result from retailers and brands competing for customer attention. As a result, shoppers may enjoy more choice, but the more sensitive buyers may also feel overwhelmed. By ensuring an optimal design of shared spaces, retail landlords and property managers may be able to address various consumer needs.
“Sound and music are top of the list of factors impacting a consumer experience when shopping for Christmas, as indicated by 42% of Polish respondents. Interior design and lighting were important to 41% and 38% of those polled respectively. What may also prove relevant to property managers is that according to almost a third of respondents the quality of signage in a shopping centre also matters to them in addition to sensory stimuli. A clear and intuitive layout and easy access to key information can be invaluable to consumers during busier periods,” explains Michał Masztakowski, Head of Retail Agency, Cushman & Wakefield.
Cushman & Wakefield’s survey has also revealed that feelings experienced when shopping for Christmas gifts or food can be a major challenge and may simply cause discomfort.
“46% of Polish respondents regularly or frequently feel irritated in shopping centres, with 81% experiencing that feeling sometimes due to too many people being there. No wonder, Cushman & Wakefield’s data shows that monthly footfall for shopping centres and retail parks averaged over half a million people per retail scheme last December. Such a number of shoppers can give many visitors a headache. That is why it makes sense to create quieter zones in which to sit down for a while, take a rest and think about what else is on our shopping list,” says Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz, Head of Marketing, Asset Services, Cushman & Wakefield.
The second most common stimulus, which may also cause irritation, is excessive noise that is often experienced by 42% of respondents and sometimes by over three quarters. In third place came exposure to overstimulation, frequently experienced by 37% of respondents and sometimes by nearly 70%.
“Silent hours, break-out spaces, control of light intensity and temperatures are only a handful of measures that can minimise the exposure of shopping centre visitors to negative stimuli and which we recommend to landlords as part of our asset services,” adds Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.
Women at a greater risk of a sensory overload
The preferences of shopping centre customers also vary by gender. According to Cushman & Wakefield’s survey, women appear to be at a greater risk of a sensory overload than men – the feeling is often or always experienced by 41% of female respondents compared to 31% of male respondents. Another example of greater exposure to stimuli is noise fatigue in shopping centres which is often or always felt by 47% of women and 34% of men.
A good way of taking a break from all the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle is to move to a quieter place, cited by nearly every fourth respondent, but by more women than men (41% vs. 33%).
Closely watched comfort
How to support consumers coming to shopping centres during the peak shopping season?
“Fewer people inside a shopping centre came top of the list, as cited by nearly half of those polled. Those who try to avoid crowds like the plague should visit shopping centres in the morning as they are less busy then,” explains Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.
Footfall levels are followed by the right indoor temperature (47%), good transport connections to one’s home and an intuitive layout of stores and service outlets (45% each).
“Factors impacting a shopper’s personal physical experience should be regularly analysed by retail landlords and property managers as an excessively high indoor temperature or loud music and bright flashing lights may discourage visitors from returning. We all live hectic lives of multitasking and overstimulation, so it is worth making shopping a stress-free experience for customers,” concludes Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.
The survey Handlowy sezon emocji opens a new series of Cushman & Wakefield publications on Polish people’s commercial real estate experience.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
The survey Handlowy sezon emocji was commissioned by Cushman & Wakefield and carried by ARC Rynek i Opinia in September 2023 on a sample of 513 Polish people, including 504 users of retail facilities, using the CAWI (Computer-Assisted Web Interview) method. It was conducted to identify the ways Polish people use retail space and their related feelings and attitudes. The survey and an analysis of research findings were prepared by experts of Cushman & Wakefield and dat:awesome by Linkleaders.