Fernie, J. (2006), "Editorial", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 34 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijrdm.2006.08934aaa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Our first issue of 2006 has a strong theme on consumer behaviour in department stores, especially in the US. Our first paper, however, is drawn from research into experiential and social aspects of consumption in Finland. Data were collected over three days at a major departmental store with 364 respondents completing a questionnaire. The research by Rintamaki, Kanto, Kuusela and Spence suggests that some retailers need to adopt a differentiated strategy because consumers do value hedonic and social attributes when they shop, especially at weekends. Our second paper explores a similar theme, namely the role of social cues in affecting patronage behaviour and their impact on store image. With a student convenience sample, Hu and Jasper used an experimental design using around 200 photographs from US department stores to ascertain consumers' views with regard to social cues. It was shown that potential consumers had a more favourable attitude towards merchandise and quality when social cues were present. High personalised service was also important implying that retail service needs to be re-invented to create excitement in the store environment.
Burns and Neisner continue this theme in their paper but stress the role of emotion in customer satisfaction. Again an experimental design was used and the sample frame was drawn from student participants. Scales were derived to record participants' views on their expectations from specific stores and their emotional response to satisfaction/dissatisfaction. Results show that retailers, which exude high expectations but perform poorly elicit the most negative reaction with regard to emotions from their customers. The final paper on this theme by Vahie and Paswan deals with store image in department stores in the context of private label development. Using generation Y students as the sample frame, 549 questionnaires were completed on the consumers' perception of private labels within the apparel sections of US department stores. The results show that private labels can co-exist with national brands if their images are seen to be congruent. This also related to dimensions such as store atmosphere, convenience and price/value.
Our final paper is a Viewpoint by Ray Serpkenci and Doug Tigert on Wal-Mart's potential future sales. As the title suggests, Wal-Mart's growth is now averaging at around 10-12 per cent per year, almost a half of its meteoric growth in the 1980s and 1990s. Competition at home, especially from Target and Costco, who are achieving better like for like sales and poor performances outwith Canada, Mexico and the UK are all contributing to lower overall sales growth. The question which the authors ask is what impact this will have on their staff, especially associates who have a “contract” with the company based on rising sales and stock market growth. The former is flattening, the latter has not reached the dizzy heights of $70 a share of 1999/2000.