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Youth perception of service quality of large food retailers in the Cape Metropolis
Retailers (including food retailers) are facing challenging times due to the dynamic business environment. Increasing competition, uncertain economic environment. The sophistication of consumers has prompted retailers to improve not only their product offering but service quality too. Some food retailers, however, have gained a reputation for poor service quality. On the other hand, those food retailers providing high levels of service quality, warrant customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, and minimise customer defection, ultimately affecting positive profitability. The youth is a significant market to target for any retailer. Retailers that can attract and muster support from the youth can build long term relationships that result in strong customer loyalty. For this study, second and third year retail students enrolled at a university of technology were deemed as the target population following the rationale that these students would be familiar with retail concepts and be conscious of service quality issues. The study aimed to measure youth perceptions of service quality of large food retailers in line with the dimensions of the Retail Service Quality Scale (RSQS). An online survey was employed via the university’s intranet to where the youth customers were requested to rate their service quality perceptions of a large food retailer they frequented the most and to highlight areas of service quality that required attention. The results were generally neutral, large food retailers were generally perceived as fairly providing quality service in some areas, though in other areas not so successful. The findings reveal that youth significantly felt personal interaction and physical aspects of the retailer was the most important service quality determinant. In particular, convenient shopping was paramount; and thereafter quality goods and services offered by the retailer. The study further showed that youth favoured service quality offered by retailers over the price of goods and services. Therefore, youth would remain loyal to their food retailers that provide satisfactory levels of service quality even if their prices were higher than their competitors’ prices. Retailers that want to attract youth would need to improve the reliability dimension, which includes stock availability, and the service process relating to paying. The literature and the data collected provided the researcher with the opportunity to explore youth perceptions of service quality of food retailers in the Cape Metropolis.