Small-town consumers' disconfirmation of expectations and satisfaction with local independent retailers

Seung Eun Lee, Kim K Johnson, Sherri A. Gahring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose - To identify factors that influence small-town consumers' satisfaction with local independent retailers and the subsequent relationships of consumer satisfaction to in-shopping, community attachment, and support of local independent retailers. Design/methodology/approach - Oliver's expectancy-disconfirmation model (1980) was used as the framework to predict consumer satisfaction. Consumer mailing addresses were attained from independent retailers in three small Midwest communities in the USA wherein at least one big box retailer was located. A survey questionnaire was sent to 903 consumers of independent retailers. The return rate was 36 per cent with 328 responses. Findings - Most strategies performed by small-town independent retailers did not meet their local consumers' expectations. Specially, merchandise assortment and availability, such as offering a unique and large selection of products, showed the largest discrepancy between respondents' expectations and retailers' performance, indicating that independent retailers are not meeting their consumers' needs in these areas. Participants who were satisfied with their independent retailers, shopped locally, were strongly attached to their communities, and were willing to support their local independent retailers. Practical implications - Small-town independent retailers need to continuously examine and re-examine their business strategies to meet the changing expectations of their local consumers. Small-town consumers' expectations of local independent retailers are shifting due to varying dynamics of retail environment including the entry of big-box retailers. It is essential that independent retailers know their local customers and exploit niche strategies that big-box retailers do not provide. Originality/value - The authors adopted the concepts of satisfaction and disconfirmation from Oliver's expectancy-disconfirmation model. On the basis of Oliver's model, the authorss predicted that consumer satisfaction with local independent retailers would be affected by possible disconfirmation between consumers' expectations and independent retailers' performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-157
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2008


  • Communities
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Retailers
  • Small enterprises
  • United States of America


Dive into the research topics of 'Small-town consumers' disconfirmation of expectations and satisfaction with local independent retailers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this