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Christmas shopping – setting the mood and atmosphere

Christmas shopping – setting the mood and atmosphere and the specials

December 18, 2012

New Zealand retailers set a mood and atmosphere in their shops each year to make it attractive and alluring to Christmas shoppers, a University of Canterbury expert said today.

UC marketing associate professor Paul Ballantine said a key to understanding why retail stores look the way that they do at Christmas time is atmospherics.

The study of atmospherics centres around how a store environment produces specific effects in people that end up enhancing their purchase probability, he said.

``In the same way that a natural environment - such as a lake and mountains - can make people feel good, retailers have long been trying to understand how an artificial environment like a retail store can make people feel good. The rule of thumb is that people will end up spending more time and money in stores that they like.

``In the lead up to Christmas, retailers have a lot of tools at their disposal in order to create a festive mood. Certain songs and types of music are used as a reminder of the season, and what people can see is equally important.

``Linked in with this is the idea of experiential shopping, which looks at the total experience of shopping and the things which are done to make Christmas shopping an event. Department stores in particular are known for their Christmas window displays which are used to draw people in. Equally, performance groups such as choirs, or the ability for kids to meet Santa, are all things that can make shopping more of an event at this time of year.

``We also know that consumers have become jaded by what can only be described as perpetual sales. The sales promotion that ‘must end soon’ but never does, or the one that will ‘never be repeated’ but inevitably will be.

``What this does is undermine store loyalty as people are more willing to shop around and increase price sensitivity as people no longer want to lose out by paying full price. It also means that consumers anticipate when sales occur.’’

Professor Ballantine said in New Zealand, retailers have taught shoppers to only buy during the weekend as this is when the bigger sales promotions always occur. Many people preferred to receive vouchers for Christmas as it meant they could get more bang for their buck during the Boxing Day sales.

He said it was no surprise that sales seemed even more visible in terms of being a promotional tactic. Many consumers were keeping a tight financial reign on their spending, with people wanting to feel as though they were getting a good deal for their money.

``Boxing Day Sales in themselves have become an anticipated shopping ritual for people. These sales are given a lot of publicity, and they create a sense of excitement for shoppers. This is often because of the adrenalin rush caused by the feeling of being in competition with other shoppers to get the best deal.’’


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