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Counter-Clockwise Traffic Good for Sales

January 22, 2003

By George Anderson

A new in-store shopping study from Sorenson Associates suggests American consumers will shop longer in stores that have entrances on the right compared to those with center or left side entryways.

The difference in shopping behavior by location of a store's entrance is the result of consumers' natural inclination to move in a counter clockwise direction according to the study's authors.

Robert Meyer, a professor at Penn's Wharton School of Business said in a released statement, "Counter-clockwise movement patterns are quite common in nature."

Professor Meyer believes consumers here move about stores in the same pattern because "A counter-clockwise flow is the most natural pattern of movement in a closed space when the norm is to walk (and drive) on the right."

Sorenson Associates reports that the tendency to move counter-clockwise was so strong among some consumers, even when entering on the left, they "traveled across the front of the store to start their trip on the right."

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D., president and founder, Sorensen Associates is a member of the RetailWire BrainTrust. For more information on the company's services check out www.sorensen-associates.com

Moderator's Comment: How are retailers using consumer behavior research to create more shopper friendly stores? Are there any store operators or designers you believe are doing exciting work in this area?

The Sorenson Associates press release on its study findings offers the following advice. "The implication for retailers looking to maximize every square inch of their real estate is significant: Don't force shoppers to do what they naturally don't want to do. If retailers make it difficult, they'll leave. Marketers are fighting intuition if they ignore human nature in store design and merchandising." [George Anderson - Moderator]

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