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Exploring children’s responses to store atmosphere

Kafia Ayadi (Department of Marketing, NEOMA Business School, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France)
Lanlan Cao (Department of Marketing, NEOMA Business School, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 10 October 2016



The purpose of this paper is to explore children’s responses to store atmosphere, and the role of parent-child interaction in these responses.


The authors used a qualitative study within two French stores and employed a grounded-theory approach to analyse data. Data were collected from 41 in-store observations and 20 in-depth interviews with children aged 7-11.


This research reveals that the impact of store atmospherics on children’s responses to store environment and on their behaviour in-store is a complex phenomenon. Children passively and actively respond to store atmosphere. They appropriate and re-appropriate store environment for their own goal of play. Store atmospherics may lead to positive outcomes in the form of children’s exploration of the store, desire to stay longer and intention to revisit. However, store atmosphere can also become the source of conflicts between parents and children, and therefore have a negative impact on children’s behaviour in-store.

Research limitations/implications

The study deepens the understanding of children’s responses to store atmosphere by taking account of parent-child interaction. It extends research on the effects of store atmosphere on children’s behaviour by suggesting the moderating effect of parent-child conflict. Nevertheless, the number of stores selected limits the findings.

Practical implications

The findings of this study enable retailers to improve the atmosphere of their stores by making it fun and creative in order to attract children to play there. Furthermore, the study provides interesting findings for retailers on how to overcome the challenge of inappropriate store atmosphere creating or aggravating parent-child conflict during shopping trips.

Social implications

The authors suggest solving conflicts between children and parents through common activities within the store or through interactive technologies that favour communication and enable children to learn through play.


The originality of this paper lies in its focus on the role of parent-child interaction in children’s responses to store atmosphere. The authors intend to reveal the complicated relationship between store atmosphere, children’s responses and parent-child interaction in-store.



Ayadi, K. and Cao, L. (2016), "Exploring children’s responses to store atmosphere", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 44 No. 10, pp. 1030-1046.



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