Independent book retailers might have a new secret weapon as they take on big booksellers like Barnes & Noble and e-commerce behemoths like Amazon. A new study from Belgium researchers at Hasselt University suggests that the smell of chocolate in bookstores encourages customers to spend more time browsing for books.
The study was conducted over 10 days at a local bookstore, during which the store smelled like chocolate for half of its business hours. Researchers analyzed the behavior of every fifth customer that entered the store — a total of 201 patrons — and found that customers were twice as likely to look at more than one book when the store smelled like chocolate.
The key finding? Overall book sales increased as well, and sales for certain kinds of books, such as romance and food-related books, increased by about 40 percent.
Sales for retail booksellers have been declining or stagnant over the past several years, with increased competition from ecommerce websites and e-book sellers. Amazon alone accounts for about 30 percent of the U.S. book market.