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KNIGHTSTOP RETAIL AUDIT

Group 7:
Kris Advani, Keith Johnson
Rachel Palenik, Carla Sanchez
Bryan Upton, Jessie Walker

Consumer Behavior
Dr. Ata Jami
12:00 pm T/Th
11/18/2014

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Table of Contents
Page Number
Introduction:

3-4

Store Location:

4-5

Transition Zone:

5-7

Traffic Flow:

7-8

Crowding:

8-9

Accessibility:

10-11

Shopper Demographics:

11-12

Signage:

12-13

Checkout:

13-14

Mystery Shopping:

14-15

Other Issues:

15-16

Recommendations:

16-17

Conclusion/ What did you learn:

17-18

Appendix

19-22

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Introduction:
The purpose of this retail audit is to be able to correlate concepts from the book “Why We
buy” and the material from our text book and be able to apply it to real world cases through
meticulous observations. The other objective is to obtain conclusive data through observation of
the behavior of consumers in Knightstop and be able to provide recommendations to improve the
store's success and functionality as a whole.
Owned by Aramark, Knightstop is presented to students not only as access to quick
snacks and other convenience products, but also as a place that offers vegetarian and organic
options. Its self-proclaimed “convenience” is not only related to the quickness with which
customers can find what they are looking for but also to the fact that they accept Knight Cash, a
bonus spending feature on the student ID’s of those who have selected a meal plan. Because of
this, students that live on campus benefit greatly from this feature eatery in the Student Union.
To effectively observe shoppers’ habits, you need to be reasonably close to view their eyes
to see what products they are comparing. In a medium sized retail outlet similar to a CVS or
Walgreens, there are roomier aisles with more customers to observe. Unfortunately, Knightstop
is a very small convenience store which limited observation capacity immensely. Initial
observation sessions took place at a set of tables outside of the store mainly collecting
demographic data, purchase trends and store features. After further discussion the need to
achieve better data by increasing proximity to the customers arose in order to observe their
purchase heuristics. Due to the size of Knightstop, our customer observations were severely
restricted. In a convenience store with limited selections, the majority of shoppers knew what
they wanted to purchase ahead of time so they moved swiftly to their objectives and then to the
cashier spending less than 2-3 minutes in the store. Also, there is a clear view of the entire store

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by the associates. To spend much longer than 5 minutes observing would have alerted the
employees of possible mystery shopping thus, decision-making data collection was not as
extensive as originally desired. Group members’ employed techniques were universal- it was
chosen to count each person entering as a shopper. Because of the rapid pace at which the entire
experience occurs, it seemed more important at the time to keep track of numbers and
demographics as compared to what was purchased by customers. To perform the mystery
shopping activities, each team member received 2 preloaded meals on their ID cards and chose
different sleuthing times to ensure diversity in responses. After each group member’s
experience, a secret shopping form was filled out which gave an overall grade of the collective
functions of the store. (See Appendix for Table A logging observation dates, times, and
number of customers observed by each group member)
Store Location Description:
Knightstop is a convenience store located on the ground floor of the student union at the
University of Central Florida. It is surrounded by quick-stop restaurants of various themes. One
sells pretzels, one sells cookies and another sells Mediterranean food. This location is
convenient for on-the-go students and faculty that may need a snack but are time-poor and
cannot spend the time it takes to leave and find parking on campus again. At the heart of campus,
the student union sees more foot traffic than any other building on campus. At this location, the
retail experience for customers starts when you walk through the entrance. Already, a customer
can see signage and different logos on all of the displays. It is also very difficult to miss the sushi
chefs, a short straight walk from the front entrance. It is unique to this storefront and therefore
attracts a lot of attention. There is also a large machine designed to create over 60 different
flavors of Coca-Cola beverages. This is a new machine added to various storefronts on campus
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and is therefore another draw to customers. This is a draw because refillable cups are sold as part
of student meal plans that can be used at these intriguing machines. Knightstop also has a wide
selection of snacks, drinks and minimal basic first aid supplies. This store is meant to show
customers what they want in a quick and efficient manner.
Transition Zone:
According to the book, Why We Buy, by Paco Underhill, the transition zone, also referred
to as the decompression zone is identified as the first few feet into the store which serves as a
type of landing strip of sorts to slow the customers pace entering the establishment. Within the
transition zone, the customer’s mindset can be an immediate or gradual change. For instance, the
transition zone at a standard Walmart supercenter is approximately 20 to 25 feet long that
contains shopping carts, vending machines and kids games. The lighting is dimmer than inside
the store and a greeter is usually placed at the end of the zone/ beginning of actual store. For a
large retailer like Walmart, they can afford to have a larger decompression zone whereas in the
case of Knightstop every bit of square footage needs to be managed appropriately.
Upon examination of Knightstop’s transition zone characteristics, it is natural to first look
at the windows. The windows are the first thing a customer sees approaching a store from the
parking lot and in Knightstop’s case, the hustle and bustle of the student union. Because
Knightstop is housed inside the student union, many alert shoppers have already transitioned
before entering the store due to properly placed and moderately sized signage catching the
customer’s attention. The windows are large and cover two thirds of the entire wall from
roughly 2 ½ feet from the floor to the ceiling. There is excellent lighting which allows a clear
view into the store. The one noticeable problem was the displays which blocked the windows
and the sign hanging in the window facing away from incoming traffic.
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Doors play an important role with customer transition. Besides a doors’ functionality,
they can be instrumental in slowing a customers’ pace upon entering a store. This slight
momentum shift allows the customer to change focus and observe displays, sales or services
positioned near the entrance of a store. Knightstop’s entrance has adequate width but no physical
door. There is an overhead gate which is pulled down at the end of the day to indicate it’s closed.
The lack of a door keeps the flow of traffic high but also keeps a customer’s pace high.
Due to of Knightstop’s limitations with space, they have to focus on other aspects to try
and build a transition zone starting before the customer even enters the store. The first was a
well-maneuvered change in the flooring pattern. The tiling in the union is a solid off white with
black speckles. As you approach the entrance of the store, there is a distinct 18 inch wide black
strip running across the doorway separating the union tile from the black and white checkered
tile inside Knightstop. Depending on the direction you’re traveling, you will be able to see this
distinct change which in turn prepares you for entrance. Next was a sign placed at the front
entrance which also helped with creating an effective transition zone. It was approximately 5
feet high from the ground and 2 feet wide alerting students that there were still meal plan
possibilities and discounts. It was facing the main direction of travel which allowed it to be
viewable by the majority of foot traffic. A slight pause to notice and acknowledge the sign was
observed in customers and provided a subtle break in the customers’ pace allowing a proper
transition.
Another idea well-implemented by management was the use of a greeter at the entrance
holding a tray of yogurt samples for customers. This acted as a buffer of sorts to slow the pace
of traffic entering the store in addition to causing customer enticement. This broke customers’
focus and allowed the displays at the entrance to be noticed.

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However, there are a few recommendations that could be utilized to improve
Knightstop’s transition zone. With such a small transition zone, the store needs to try and expand
outside of the walls. The recommendation is not to necessarily place merchandise outside the
store but possibly a display poster to the left near the table closest to the entrance with
information or a digital display screen which could be used to highlight daily specials or sales.
Traffic Flow:
The layout of Knightstop is developed in a very functional manner that allows the
customer to target the products there seek in a very swift and uncomplicated way. Upon
observations it was devised that in general more customers habitually walked towards the right
side of the store which interestingly enough was one of the characteristics that Paco Underhill
highlighted in his book “Why We Buy”. The side of the road in which we drive on seemed to be
one of the prevailing factors that influenced such behavior.
Analyzing customers’ flow through the store revealed that after walking in towards the
right direction they would walk around the perimeters store, scanning the products offered in the
refrigerators wrapping around the store, and then proceeding down each of the aisles. By
observing customers’ patterns it became apparent that for the most part customers walked into
the store with a preconceived idea of what they were going to purchase. After grabbing the
product they were searching for they would proceed to scan the store for any additional items
that caught their attention. Generally, this seemed to be the usual pattern for most of the
customer. However, on certain occasions some customers walked towards the left side directly to
the sushi bar since evidently that was their purpose for walking in the store. But for the most part
the left side of the store had very light traffic flow in comparison to the right side. One of the
aspects of the general design that stood out the most was how well utilized the end caps of the
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aisles were. Since Knightstop functions as a convenience store, utilizing every amount of space
is essential to the success of the store. The store did a remarkable job at accomplishing this by
providing a wide variety of product in these areas that quintessentially are not perceived as a
traditional location for displaying products. By placing products in the endcaps it allowed the
store to have a smooth flow where virtually any direction in which the customer was facing
would be exposed to a product for sale.
After assessing the overall functionality of the store, one of the aspects that Knightstop
could improve upon is utilizing every space of the store equally. The left area of the store, where
the sushi bar and beverage dispensers are located, lacked substantial traffic flow in comparison to
the other side. A simple suggestion that can draw people to that area of the store is changing the
location one of the most popular products to the left side of the store. This in hopes would
encourage customers to wander around that area and possibly be persuaded to purchase other
products positioned in close proximity. Another recommendation is positioning attentiongrabbing signage. These have to be advertisements that jump out to the customer and effortlessly
catch their eye. This technique could be instrumental in improving the traffic flow in the slower
regions of the store and potential improve the sales of the products positioned there.
Crowding:
Knightstop contains a vast array of convenience items, snacks, and beverages in a minute
amount of space. The layout of the store must be in the most efficient design possible or
crowding can easily occur, especially during high-traffic time periods. If customers experience
the “butt-brush effect” due to crowding while perusing the aisles, the result is an immediate
discomfort that oftentimes will cause the customer to put a halt to their search and terminate their
purchase.
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The aisle width at Knightstop is arranged to avoid the “butt-brush effect” from occurring
by utilizing wide aisles that allow several shoppers to examine the shelves of products without
interfering with one another. The amount of space within the central aisles and beverage coolers
are equivalent but Knightstop provides more room for customers surrounding the sushi bar and
drink machine to maneuver. However, there is an aisle furthest to the left that is close to a
structural column that already limits shopping space, but in addition, a large waste receptacle is
placed between the column and the shelf which makes the portion of products closest to the
register on the left side inaccessible to customers without an uncomfortable amount of crowding
and squeezing necessary to acquire the products placed there.
During both mystery shopping experiences that transpired on Thursday afternoons, it
became apparent that if the check-out line became any longer than three people then severe
crowding would ensue near the register. This is due to the close proximity of the central aisles to
the register. There is no clear direction for the check-out line to curve. Therefore, whether it
snakes around the drink aisle, down the center aisle, or towards the door, the line inhibits
customers from accessing a plethora of products and creates crowding for any shoppers trying to
reach the items blocked by the line or traveling down those aisles.
A recommendation for Knightstop would include more efficiently utilizing their space by
placing movable items such as garbage cans and display cases in low-traffic locations that allow
the shoppers to browse sans fear of “butt-brush.” In addition, it is recommended to make a more
well-defined space for the customers to stand in line so that it does not interfere with the other
shoppers.
Accessibility:

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Due to lack of real estate, ergonomics is essential to the layout of Knightstop & Sushi
Bar. Upon first review of accessibility, general store configuration was examined. Despite
suitable aisle width, there are several problematic areas that could hinder accessibility for patrons
in wheelchairs. While surveying the back of the store, it is noticed that an outward edge of the
sushi bar, in conjunction with the first aisle’s end display, creates a narrow pass that sidewalls
wheelchairs and facilitates discomforting “butt-brush.” Paco Underhill defines the “butt-brush”
effect as a customer’s abandoned product search due to a touch or brush from behind. Another
concern is located in the front of the store where hygiene products are awkwardly situated halfbehind the register. Not only did the small pathway limit the disabled’s reach but also the social
concept of “behind the counter” played a peculiar part. The effects of this were made certain
when an abashed customer was observed timidly waiting to pick out Tylenol- caught in limbo
between headache relief and potential verbal reprimand. Since it is presumed that the store
intends for customers to grab these products themselves, it is recommended to make the shelf
more accommodating and less ambiguous. In a further effort to rate store accessibility, it must
also be noted that the store does not accommodate for vision impairments. The use of braille and
audio can be used to assist blind customers.
During the peak hours of the day, a new accessibility hindrance presented itself- the
checkout line ran down the middle aisle. This positioning flaw turned an attractive, centered
display into a last ditch effort at a sale. Customers who knew their products were located on this
aisle were forced to push the item to last on their shopping list or battle the chaos of jutting
backpacks and “gastronomes” with sushi and energy drink at hand. It is advised that Knightstop
experiment with positioning the aisles at a 45 angle to the register, allowing for better product
recognition from incoming customers and changing the path of the checkout line.

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Shopper Demographics:
For the most part, the overall demographics of the customer base was anticipated. As
expected, the characteristics that strongly defined them was their age. Being located in the
Student Union, the center of the University of Central Florida campus, it is normal for the
majority of the customers to be college age students between the ages of 18-24 years old. Out of
the customers observed, roughly 85 percent were defined under this age group. The remainder
were middle-aged adults who appeared to be school faculty. Considering the gender of the
customers observed, relatively half of them were female and half of them were males, however,
there was slightly more males. Referring back to the book “Why We Buy” men are described as
hunters and have a tendency to shop with a motive or mission, rather than the lingering
propensity of females. Knightstop being a convenience store, is more aligned with the male
shopping modus operandi since the shopping experience is usually guided by a purpose. Another
interesting observation regarding gender is that of the customers observed, the majority of the
sushi purchases were done primarily by females. Of all the sushi purchases observed by one
group member within an hour time frame, only one buyer was a male. Race demographics,
however, did range significantly. UCF is known for its diverse student body so the wide range of
ethnic groups was well expected. The majority of customers were Caucasian followed by
Hispanics, then African-Americans, and supplemented by a mix of Asians, Middle Easterns,
Indians, and several other ethnic minorities.
When considering all the customers observed, the vast majority of customers were buyers
more so than shoppers. This can be attributed to the fact that most customers had a tendency to
come into the store knowing what they wanted ahead of time. Customers were also mostly on
their own throughout their shopping experience, with the occasional group ranging from two to
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four individuals. Clearly considering all the different demographics, the target customers for
Knightstop are college aged students both females and males of various genders. Targeting these
demographics is crucial in the success of Knightstop convenience store. (See Appendix for
Graphs A - C demonstrating distribution of age, gender, and ethnicity amongst customers)
Signage:
The signage placed inside and outside of Knightstop need improvements. The vendor has
some appealing signs inside the store but they are poorly placed and do not suit the need of this
facility. To begin with, the signs outside of Knightstop are hardly visible. There are nine square
windows that can serve as a display for their signage and out of the nine windows there are only
three that have any signage placed in them and they are the three in the bottom row which
hinders visibility to potential customers. In addition to being on the bottom row, the signs are
placed directly behind several tables stationed in front of the store. The tables block the signs
almost completely, especially if someone is sitting at the tables. The signs should be redesigned
to just have words, bright colors, and images instead of being white words on plain color blocks.
The display signs should have items listed such as ice cream, sandwiches, Icees, sushi and
snacks. The store should also move the signs to the middle row to increase visibility. The store
has a pop up display outside of the main entrance; this display only has information about a
mobile app to which consumers can subscribe. If the store were to advertise the sushi instead of
the mobile app they may increase sales. In addition to the outside signage not being well-utilized,
the inside signage is also ineffective. The signs on the inside of the store are more or less hidden.
During the initial visit to the store, the large signs over the Coke a Cola fountain machine were
not apparent and easily overlooked. The signs are all the way on the left wall and a majority of
shoppers do not go to the left side unless they are purchasing sushi. The inside of the store does a
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good job of creating an inviting effect with their signage but that is not the only purpose this
store needs. The only time a shopper would see the Coca-Cola signs would be because they are
buying sushi. The only other sign is over the sushi counter and that one is effective because it
shows customers that this is where the sushi is located. The store does not have any signs placed
around the store and it would be beneficial for them to have more. The store should have signs
hanging over the different coolers and over the rows of food. The signs will display different
sections- for example: sodas, juice, energy drinks, snacks, candy, etc. Shoppers will instantly see
items others than what they initially came in for causing them to spend longer time. In
conclusion the store needs to improve the visibility and presence of their signage to increase
impact in sales.
Checkout:
The checkout process at this store is usually relatively quick and convenient. The
checkout counter is pretty small and it is set up pretty well. They have two registers and usually a
cashier at each so it makes the wait time shorter. Sometimes the wait time becomes longer than
anticipated and at times this can be the longest part of the shopping and checkout process before
reaching a cashier which can create disgruntled customers. Once the consumer reaches the
cashier the process speeds up quite a bit. The cashier will take the selected items and scan them
one by one. The cash register already has all the items in its database so it sums up the total
quickly. Then the students can conveniently pay with either cash, card or with their Knights Cash
from their UCF ID card. The cashiers are usually very friendly and they try to upsell items or ask
if the consumer forgot a drink or anything. The cashier is virtually unnecessary but one cannot
trust college kids on a college campus with a self-checkout system. One thing the store can
improve on is having two cashiers at all times because the store gets busy spurts quite frequently
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and having two cashiers can alleviate the waiting time. Because of the size of Knightstop they
would not benefit much from having a third cashier. It would more than likely cost more to
install another cash register and pay an extra employee then the return on investment. Also, a
significant strength that the checkout process has is having lots of candy and quick grab items
placed in front of and behind the counter that people can see while they are waiting and make
last minute impulse purchases. This promotes a lot of upselling and many shoppers become
victim to it. In conclusion, the checkout process is fairly quick and convenient besides not having
to cashiers at all times the store has done a very good job to manage the checkout process with
their friendly employees.
Mystery Shopping:
As misery met mystery, the guy behind the register timidly looked up to see how his next
encounter would go; cash or credit. Rats… UCF ID. The cashier awkwardly adjusted the sleeve
of his white hoodie sweatshirt, a brass colored name tag giving it formality. Begrudgingly, he
keyed the strokes allowing the customer to use their meal plan. The sale was then finalized with
the only words said thus far, “Here you go.”
Although this experience did not mark a trend for the mystery shoppers, it is the one most
easy to recall. Unfortunately, a negative experience is far more memorable than one that meets
expectations. Over a series of weeks, mystery shoppers frequented Knightstop and Sushi Bar in
an effort to objectively critique the service being rendered. The majority of the shopping
experiences were influenced by courteous employees who wore neatly kept uniforms, spoke with
a smile and were thankful for their customer’s business. More attentive cash register employees
even went as far as offering items for up sale. The day of the man in the white hoodie was an
exception and no one else observed this individual on any other days. However, the anecdote of
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the negative encounter reinforces the famous idiom that a chain is only as strong as its weakest
link.
While mystery shopping, the researchers also made note of the store’s speed of service.
The shoppers were able to quickly select and pick up their purchases and the line waits were
moderate to none. It was observed that longest line waits happened around lunchtime and those
were oftentimes negated by a supplemental cashier. Overall, speed of service was satisfactory
Knight Stop offered a clean, properly lit environment with a vast selection of products.
Several mystery shoppers spotted items that were out of stock and one shopper stumbled upon a
product with price discrepancy. For the most part, items were properly labeled and well
presented. An important factor that was noted but not documented through survey was the taste
of the prepared food. Despite food freshness, several mystery shoppers were displeased by the
taste of what was offered. One shopper recommends the use of less bread, more condiments, and
more meat. Some improvement should be done in the preparation, presentation and selection of
products.

Other Issues:
Though the dimensions identified in this paper covered the majority of Knightstop’s
visible issues, one significant problem was not thoroughly addressed within the research. Due to
the vast number of customers entering Knightstop with a mission and deliberate purchase in
mind, it was continuously observed that customers spent little to no time browsing the other
products in the store. Influencing customers to browse other merchandise can be a difficult task
but if they are able to encourage each customer to purchase one more item then they were
predetermined to buy, Knightstop would improve their sales exponentially.

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Recommendations:
The most critical recommendations are presented and described in their respective
sections. A few of the most significant are placing signage outside of the store to draw attention
of people walking past, another is changing the location of one of the most popular products to
the left side in efforts to improve the traffic flow in the less frequented area. Placing garbage
cans and displays in less frequented areas to avoid the “butt-brush” effect is another
recommendation described.
Some other recommendations not described previously are as follow. Since Knightstop is
such a grab-and-go type of shopping experience, it is more difficult to track the quick
movements of all the shoppers that enter the store in a small period of time. Most people don’t
spend more than 3-4 minutes in Knightstop because they come in with a purpose. One of the
things that are apparent is how close the sushi counter is to the closest aisle. This is a possible
butt-brush zone, which customers tend to dislike. It most likely has not been an issue so far since
the store is very rarely crowded, but it could potentially become an issue as the student body
increases in size. One way to improve upon this is shifting the isles slightly away from the
counter. This way customers will have more space when moving throughout that area. One of the
issues encountered during the secret shopping is that a product that would not scan and had no
price labels on the display. It was a promotional 24 pack of Coke Zero specially marked for
Halloween Horror Nights. It is possible that this display was in the process of being completed
when the employee got called away to a more pressing matter. Regardless, it still created both a
pricing issue at the register and a backup of the line. This is a difficult matter to handle but one
way to resolve this is by proper planning and management. The price labeling should have been
completed prior to the store opening. Another recommendation had to do with the accessibility of

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the first aid supplies. They are partially behind the counter, making it awkward to access for the
customer. In case of an emergency this could increase the time that person receives assistance.
With this in mind, moving the placement to a more accessible place could be instrumental in
dealing with an emergency.

Conclusion/ What did you learn:
After weeks of observation and research, the group finished the project walking away
with several key lessons. First and foremost, a poor impression is much more flagrant in a
customer’s mind than a good one. Despite the numerous positive observations, the one
unfortunate employee interaction and poor logistics exhibited by Knightstop were the images
most ingrained in group members’ minds. Another vital lesson was the importance of layout,
especially when square footage of the store is limited. The cramped setting was only further
inhibited by poor layout choice of the easily moved items such as the waste receptacle and
hygiene products partially behind the counter. This poor planning largely attributed to the
problems identified in crowding and accessibility. The proper implementation and placement of
signage is also more significant than originally anticipated by the group as Knightstop’s poor
performance in this aspect later contributed to difficulties in traffic flow and the transition zone.
These collective observations will benefit not only Knightstop in their future strategic
planning to improve the customer experience, but to group members as well as they embark in
their future marketing careers. Within the field of marketing, it is essential to retain a customer
perspective when deciding upon factors such as signage and layout in which small changes are
capable of entirely altering the customer’s impression of the store, their shopping experience, and
their decision to purchase. By partaking in mystery shopping and fully engrossing oneself in the

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average customer experience, both problems and solutions are able to be identified that may have
otherwise been unacknowledged by management.

Appendix

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Customer Gender

Male
45%

Female
55%

Graph A

19

Customer Age

15%
18-24

24+

85; 85%

Graph B

Graph C

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Ethnicity
14%

38%
Caucasian

19%

Hispanic

African-American

Other

29%

Table A

Name of

Date of

Starting

Ending

Observer

Observation

Time

Time

Duration

Number
of
Customer
Observed

Kris

Wednesday,

10:00

12:00

120

Advani

November

AM

PM

minutes

10

12th
Carla

Thursday,

11:00

12:00

60

Sanchez

November

AM

PM

minutes

5

6th

21

Carla

Tuesday,

11:00

12:00

60

Sanchez

November

AM

PM

minutes

5

11th
Keith

Wednesday,

1:20

2:20

60

Johnson

November

PM

PM

minutes

5

5th
Keith

Monday,

2:15

3:15

60

Johnson

November

PM

PM

minutes

5

10th
Jessie

Wednesday,

10:15

11:15

60

Walker

November

AM

AM

minutes

5

5th
Jessie

Friday,

9:25

10:25

60

Walker

November

AM

PM

minutes

9:00

10:00

60

AM

AM

minutes

5

7th
Bryan

Thursday,

Upton

November 6

Bryan

Thursday,

11:30

12:30

60

Upton

November

AM

PM

minutes

th

5

5

6th

22

Rachel

Monday,

11:15

12:15

60

Palenik

November

AM

PM

minutes

5

10th
Rachel

Tuesday,

11:00

12:00

60

5

Palenik

November

AM

PM

minutes

Total =

770

60

Minutes

customers

11th

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