Purpose - This study aims to examine the role of environmentally induced stimulation in influencing impulse buying. In addition, the authors seek to investigate the impact of two social factors (perceived crowding and employee friendliness) on unplanned purchases. Design/methodology/approach - A wide variety of retail outlets in Singapore were selected as the context for this field study, ranging from small cosmetics shops (e.g. Body Shop) to mega furniture outlets (i.e. IKEA). Findings - The results of this study indicate that perceived over-stimulation (higher than desired) has a positive impact on impulse buying. Moreover, the two social factors jointly influence consumers' unplanned purchases. Research limitations/implications - The sample size was relatively small (n=138) and data collection took place in Singapore. Thus, future research with a bigger sample and tested in other cultures is needed to enhance the generalizability of the findings. Practical implications - The study findings suggest that over-stimulation has a positive impact on impulse purchases. Store managers can look at a number of environmental design variables to increase stimulation in their shops. The findings further indicate that perceived crowding and employee friendliness jointly influence impulse buying, and hence these two factors need to be considered together in store design. Originality/value - Retailers are fully aware of the power of impulse buying in enhancing their revenues, yet little is known about how the store environment influences unplanned purchases. This study addresses that gap in the services literature.
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