How Does Temperature Affect the Spending Habits of Shoppers?


“Nowhere else in the world is the divorce between man and nature so complete.” So said writer Henry Miller of the United States culture of air-conditioning. A great deal of airtime has been given to the ideal temperature in a retail store, and how it affects spending habits of shoppers.

What are your thoughts?

Does your retail space conform to a frigid environment, or do you find a balmier ambient temperature to work better for you?

As it happens, there is no definitive answer to this conundrum, but there are some fascinating insights which we’re sure you will enjoy.

What Impacts the Spending Habits of your Customer?

The New York Times ran a telling article back in 2005 which seems to indicate that colder is better.  The article expounds, “A recent experiment in which a reporter visited various commercial corners of Manhattan with a high-grade thermometer found that almost without fail, the more ritzy the establishment is trying to be, the colder the air-conditioning is kept. In other words, the higher the prices, the lower the temperatures.”

The writer goes on to cite the temperatures at Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s at 20°C, 21.5°C, and 22.8°C respectively.

These high-end retailers insist that this cooler temperature is better for shoppers and good for their own image. In addition, cold air negates the heat of the bright lights and keeps the air clean reducing the dust and debris on their impossibly shiny surfaces.

So, if you adhere to this thinking, a cooler temperature equals luxury shopping and happy customers with deep pockets.

Is that always the case?

A consumer marketing article in Business 2 Community has a different viewpoint, however. They have this to say; “When potential buyers feel comfortably warm, they tend to be more interested and want to buy products they see. When thermometers are displaying warm and pleasant temperatures, customers have a better perception of the products they are interested in purchasing. As researchers explain, “exposure to physical warmth activates the concept of emotional warmth.

“The study proved that temperatures influence consumer behavior. The study included three experiments where participants’ purchasing habits were examined between warm and cold temperatures.  In the third experiment, where a group of participants were placed in the warmest room, they were willing to pay more for 9 of the 11 products than the other group.

“According to the study’s results, the optimal temperature for increased consumer purchasing is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Store owners should consider setting their thermostats to this temperature and see for themselves the impact that temperature plays on consumer behavior.”

At 25°C (78°F), they say, the improved sense of comfort will make your customers more inclined to spend more money.

What to Consider When Selecting the Temperature of Your Store

So, the jury is well and truly out on this debate. What other factors should you then consider before making the final call on frosty versus temperate?

Consider the following:

  • Are you thinking of the comfort of your staff or that of your customers?

On a hot summers’ day, there is no doubt that your paying customers will welcome a cool blast of air as they enter your retail space and will very likely spend some time browsing before braving the heat again. Your employees, on the other hand, are more likely to find this cooler temperature less comfortable, being subjected to it all day.

  • Does the temperature on your aircon factor in the requirements in your store?

Do you have bright lights, servers, computers or other equipment which push out hot air? If so, these will certainly influence the ambient temperature of your store.

  • What do you sell?

A supermarket with fresh produce, dairy, and meat aisles will certainly want a cooler temperature. Perishables can be fussy about their environment, and lower temperatures are going to keep them fresher for longer. In this case, the consumer is more likely to forgive a colder store than wilted spinach or spoiled milk.

  • What are your customers wearing?

The outside temperature will certainly have a bearing on your final decision. Hot days equal less clothing, so an icy store may be great for a few minutes but will send your shivering customers scuttling off quickly instead of enjoying a leisurely browse.

Conversely, a cold winters’ day will find your customers bundled up in boots and scarves, and less likely to tolerate an environment which is too warm.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Chiller

Without a doubt, there is no conclusive temperature which dictates higher sales and happy customers. Different demographics have differing requirements, and your product and location add in additional facets to this mix.

“Even the most finely calibrated central air system can never arrive at an ideal temperature for all people in all circumstances, said Robert Helt, technical director of the Home Comfort Institute, a research arm of Trane, the air-conditioner maker.

“Air temperature, humidity levels, heat radiation effects, air quality, air circulation or movement, and sound levels from comfort systems or even lighting all factor into our perception of comfort,” Mr. Helt said. “Everyone has different needs.” (Source)

However, one fact remains constant. The HVAC system that you choose to fulfil your exacting requirements needs to be robust, reliable, and well-maintained.

Your marketing, product placement and customer service won’t matter at all if your store is a humid, uncomfortable space with no moving air and rapidly deteriorating produce. Today’s customers have more choice than ever before – and in many cases don’t even need to visit a brick and mortar store as they probably have a great online option as a backup.

This makes your job of selecting the best temperature to create a comfortable shopping environment to enhance and increase your customer’s spending habits a crucial one. If you need more information on this or other elements of the ideal HVAC system for your commercial property, we are here to assist. Call AHI Carrier today.


Send us a message