University of British Columbia, Canada
The term “servicescapes” was developed by Bitner (1992, 57) to refer to the environmental contexts within which economic transactions occur. How a given environment is structured, its interior and exterior design, sound, lighting, temperature, ease of access, and other such physical elements, will significantly affect a customer's potential purchase decisions. The signifiers inherent in a servicescape differentiate a given store from its competitors, and can instantly convey what demographic the store wishes to attract (e.g., quiet classical music versus the latest hits at ear-splitting volume). Well-curated servicescapes prime consumers' anticipatory expectations before they even enter a store, indicating the likely levels of prices, product quality, and sales attentiveness.
Throughout recorded history, the concept of the market has always been associated with a specific place in which trade took place. In the bustling markets of precapitalist economies, social interaction was as important as the goods being exchanged. Under capitalism, physical spaces serving as marketplaces are often deemed of even greater importance than the social interactions that accompany transactions. The physical impact of the department store, for instance, both demanded and depended upon new forms of conduct while simultaneously facilitating altered perceptions of space and relationship. Retailers' ...