Evaluation of the effect of shopping centers architectural typologies on customer behavior : Erbil case studies
AuthorMahmoud, Khawola F.
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Humans are the main users of the environment in general and the built environment in particular. Several studies have investigated and analyzed human behavior and the reciprocal interaction between it and the built environment. These studies stated that human behavior influences the surrounding environment and is influenced by it. The shopping environment is considered one of the important environments in human society that affects human behavior. Most economic and behavioristic studies mentioned the major self and non-self factors that affect and form customer behavior; among these factors is the shopping environment. Previous studies emphasized the influence of the shopping environment's physical characteristics on customer behavior regardless of whether the nature of this influence was approach or avoidance. The degree of this influence varies in accordance with the customer's characteristics. Achieving the best customer-attracting shopping environment requires a study and analysis of the relationship between customer behavior in certain environments and the shopping environment. From this point, the objective of the study is crystallized and is represented by exploring the relationship between customer behavior and the shopping environment. Shopping centers are considered one of the most important patterns of shopping environments because they offer a variety of activities and are among the modern shopping environments that are widely spread in most countries. This situation helped crystallize the objective of the research, which identifies the influence of shopping center syntactics on customer behavior and explores the required procedures to support approach behavior and avert avoidance behavior. To achieve this goal, this research employed the following steps: A comprehensive theoretical framework was created, demonstrating the most important influential factors that affect human behavior in general and those factors that affect customer behavior in particular, to determine the most important items related to the syntactic characteristics of the shopping space that influence customer behavior. This research notably focused on a certain type of behavior, namely, the approach and avoidance behavior, without dealing with the psychological effects on customers. A practical study was conducted to test the hypothesis of the research by selecting a number of shopping centers in Erbil, Iraq. The hypothesis underscores the role of the syntactic characteristics of the shopping centers as represented by the effect on customer behavior whether it was approach or avoidance. Photographs, available maps, and observation through manual scan were all used to measure the variables with a certain degree of influence on customer behavior to be tested. SPSS 20 was used to analyze the results of the practical study with multiple linear regressions to explore the nature of the relationship between the syntactic characteristics' elements of the shopping center and customer behavior as represented by pedestrian flow. The most important malls in the case study were explored, starting from where the syntactic characteristics' elements are found, which affect customer behavior. Exploration was performed using certain mathematical (statistical) tools. Finally, a set of conclusions were reached, and suggestions were submitted. The conclusions confirmed the importance of some syntactic characteristic elements of the shopping center and their vital role in influencing the customers' approach and avoidance behavior; these elements include mall length, number of magnet points, position of magnets, number of entrances, position of free nodes, position of vertical circulation, number of specialty shops, and size of shops.
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