Sustainability, entrepreneurship, food retailers, service quality, youth, perceptions, RSQS
All retailers are obliged to compete in an environment which is characterised by increasing competition, uncertain economic conditions and the increasingly sophisticated desires of consumers. In response, retailers have been prompted to improve not only the ranges of products which they offer, but the quality of their service as well. Some food retailers, however, have gained a reputation for the poor quality of their service. By contrast, those food retailers which consistently provide their customers with service which is perceived to be of high quality are usually rewarded with high levels of both satisfaction and loyalty among their customers, which tends to minimise the likelihood of customers defecting to competitors and ultimately results in the retailers concerned maintaining their profitability in a sustainable manner. On the assumption that the youth represents a significant market for any retailer, it is a central tenet of this paper that retailers which are able to attract and muster support among the youth would inevitably increase both their viability and their sustainability. Accordingly, the study upon which this paper is based sought to gauge the perceptions of the youth of the importance of receiving high quality service from the large food retailers which they patronised most.
A quantitative research approach was adopted to gather the data from a final research sample of 176 first year students who were enrolled to study towards the National Diploma in Retail Business Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Students who were studying towards this particular qualification were purposively selected because it was assumed that they would be familiar with retail concepts and be acutely aware of concerns pertaining to service quality. A self-administered questionnaire was considered to represent the optimal means of gathering relevant and appropriate data. The findings suggest that although large food retailers were generally perceived as successfully providing high quality service in some respects, in others they were generally less successful. It was evident that the respondents perceived, to a very significant degree, that the physical attributes of large retail food stores were the most important determinants of service quality. Attributes which pertained to convenience received particularly high ratings from the respondents, as did the quality of the products which were offered by retailers. Those determinants of service quality which pertained to interactions with the sales staffs of the retailers received the lowest ratings. The fact that the respondents rated the quality of the products which were offered as being of greater concern than their prices suggested that they would be inclined to remain loyal to large food retailers which met their perceived requirements for overall quality, which would include that of the service which they received from the retailers concerned, even if their prices were higher than those of their competitors.
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