While some people are drawn to malls during the holiday season, lured by special sales and the energy of the season, others finish their Christmas shopping by Halloween just to avoid that same environment. According to a study released in the Journal of Consumer Research, what could be driving some shoppers away are the mass crowds that form during the holiday season and the subsequent bumps and touches by stressed-out strangers.

“For managers, a stranger’s touch in the store means the money walks out of the store,” wrote researcher Brett Martin.

For the study, half of the consumers in the store were brushed up against by someone as they were shopping, and the other half had another customer stand by them but remained untouched. The experiments revealed that “customers, men and women, who were touched by male or female strangers while looking at a product quickly left the store and did so with a negative view of the product they were looking at.”

“Rather than cramming a store with goods and having narrow aisles, managers should think about giving people space to consider products without the risk of being bumped into by strangers,” suggests Martin. “For the brand manager of the product, it is vital that how products are displayed by retailers is considered in a brand’s marketing strategy. It is not just about grabbing a customer’s attention in-store with a good display or price promotion. Brands that want to increase sales need to find ways to let customers view a product without being touched by others. If they are touched, they don’t buy, and they leave store with a bad impression of your brand.”

Source: Journal of Consumer Research

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.Follow Counseling Today on Twitter.