Interviewing in shopping precincts

The process is easy and fast and it can be set up and carried out in a hurry. The approach makes it easy to spread the geographic distribution of respondents without having to take steps such as paying for interviewer travel. Compared with most other methods, the approach is generally low cost. Little of the investigator's time is wasted, procedures are standardised and specific, and there is monitoring of the interviewees. All these augur well for efficiency. Whatever the form of personal interview, one major advantage of interview surveys is that it is possible to use illustrative materials, such as advertisements or illustrations of the product, during the course of the interview.

Interviews in shopping precincts are not based on a probability sample. Usually it is a quota sample and the interviewer is given instructions about the proportions they are expected to get by demographics (such as gender and age). There are problems with sampling with personal interviews in shopping precincts. On weekdays there may be greater proportions of the elderly and teenagers and if, in the case of a shopping centre, it has a number of entrances, those shoppers coming in from the parking lot will typically be of a higher income level than those entering from the bus stop entrance. The strategic placement of interviewers to cover key thoroughfares is therefore critically important.

Many shopping precinct interviews have to be conducted quickly. Shopping precinct shoppers are there to shop and to get back to their homes or offices. They can be difficult people to question. They don't have time and it is not the right point in their activities to interrupt them. So even when the interviewer gets their attention, they are under pressure to speed up the questioning - which does not make for high-quality interviewing. There is also the problem that the interviewer may be tempted to seek out those shoppers who do not appear to be in such a hurry - they may be the ones who are shopping at leisure and are not in a hurry to get anywhere.

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