When you walk into a Costco or Walmart, you’re expecting to see high ceilings. After all, that’s a lot of inventory. But what about those home decor, beauty, or clothing stores that feature the same high ceilings?
It turns out that retail shops’ high ceilings are intended to encourage you to make purchases, and yes, there’s a study to back up the idea.
Back in 2019, Joe Perdew, vice present of store design for Target, made a comment to the Star Tribune that the retailer didn’t want low ceilings. He went on to elaborate on a design principle that has ceiling heights expanded to help people make “holistic decisions” when shopping. When ceilings are high, people become more imaginative and can picture a piece in their own space or what a piece of clothing might look like on them. Lower ceilings encourage people to pay attention to detail which can sometimes deter them from purchases.
This might all seem pretty far-fetched until you hear that there’s a study to back it up. In the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, marketing scholars Joan Meyers-Levy and Rui Zhu had participants sit in a room with an eight-foot ceiling or a 10-foot ceiling. Both rooms had lighting fixtures overhead to ensure the participants took note of the heights.
Those who were in the room with higher ceilings were able to complete imagination-based tasks quicker than those in the other room. Since shopping for items like furniture, decor, and clothing often requires people to imagine the placement of pieces in their homes or how something would be worn, high ceilings can help facilitate those creative moments and lead people to purchases.
The next time you head out to shop, you might want to notice the ceilings. For the stores where you need a cart, here’s why they have those loops.