Back to Basics: The Impact of the Butt-Brush Effect on Retail Store Design

woman is checking a blue skirtRetail store design isn’t just about pleasing aesthetics — it’s also a make or break for sales. You’ve heard about the timeless principles: keep the valuable items at eye level, leave products at the checkout counter, and let customers touch the neatly folded garments.

But, have you heard about the “butt-brush effect”? Avoid this, and you’ll increase chances of impulse buys. Provoke this, and you’ll drive away your customers. tells us more.

The Butt-Brush Effect

This is a term coined by a consumer psychologist named Paco Underhill. In his book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, he said that people, especially women, tend to avoid making a purchase of a certain product, when they are “brushed” or bumped from behind, by a fellow shopper or a staff going in and out of the store or another merchandise.

They’re more likely to abandon looking at the product and deciding on getting it, simply because there’s disruption in the shopping journey. You could be losing a lot of sales potential because of the butt-brush effect. This, however, hammers the point home that the physical space of the store makes a big difference in sales.

A No-Butt Brush Zone

Avoid the butt-brush effect in your store at all costs. Improve accessibility in between aisles. Make sure there’s enough distance from Slatwall display panels and nearby furniture pieces. The rule of thumb is that two people standing back-to-back should not bump each other when looking at products.

Create pockets of decompression zones. Decompression zones are areas of transitions from the outside environment to the interior store. In the context of avoiding butt-brush effect, you can create transitions, or feature display areas, in between aisles.

This won’t just provide breathing spaces for customers, but it will also break the visual monotony in the store. Remember also that displays are never about quantity. You don’t need to show all your products in racks and display panels. Choose a few. Restock items instead of piling them up.

The butt-brush effect might be robbing you of potential sales. Break the cycle and arrange your store with no-butt brush zones.