New Study Shows That Shoppers Really Don’t Like Being Touched

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All these shoppers are probably miserable, but you didn't need a study to know that. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/AFP

According to a new study done at the Queensland University of Technology, customers who get touched in while shopping — even ever-so-lightly brushed by someone "relatively attractive" — spend less time in the store and report a more negative brand evaluation. Marketing professor Brett A. S. Martin found these results when he conducted the following experiment:

To test the effect of a stranger's touch on shopping times and customer evaluations, he instructed some relatively attractive people in their 30s to either briefly brush against shoppers or to just stand near them. As soon as the customers left the store, he logged their shopping times and asked them to share their impressions of the store and the item they were considering.

Martin's results showed that people who don't get crowded are thus more likely to linger and find something they like. No word on what this means for lines outside of stores, though: If a person gets jostled and touched while waiting to get inside a boutique, would that have the same detrimental effect?