John B. Foreman

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Does a shopper turn left or right

March 13, 2010 Trackback Main by Administrator Edit

Does a shopper turn left or right when entering a retail store?

This is one question that many Retailers will use to test a new Designer and one that they usually have a personal choice for. It is not necessarily correct and is often the by-product of how he prefers his store to be laid out to satisfy the physical barriers or intrusions that he has always placed to direct traffic as he believes it should be. He may even have inherited the layout. In most cases it will not be the result of a measured study of his customers store journeys. However he is aware that black holes can occur if the footfall flow plan creates dead spaces and his solutions are often improved by design, but he needs to know why.

Many Store Designers have personal choices for this question and many simply follow the herd, but I have never employed a Designer who knew the answer why this phenomenon occurs. I have personally studied this for years and noted that sometimes a shopper will enter the initial space and turn left and in other cases turn right for no logical reason, physical intrusions or not. After many surveys and many amended layouts it occurred to me that there must be a common human behavioral solution to this riddle. It could be simply be the magnetic pull of the Earth or of the Moon; it has been shown to affect animal herds that way. As Designers we need to know to enable us to design layouts that use this phenomenon to advantage so I now teach my staff to test the flow path physically on arrival at any new geographic location by filling the hotel wash hand basin with water, floating a matchstick or tear of tissue on the water and pulling the plug out vertically. By watching which way the flow occurs is the best evidence you will have on which way a shopper will move in an empty space.

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