Anyone waiting for the bathroom is likely to be rightly annoyed when the line stretches around the corner.
It can be even worse for store owners, because the time customers spend waiting for the washroom is time they could have spent shopping.
The University of B.C. released a study on Thursday that it claims is the first to use modelling and computer simulations to figure out waiting times for bathrooms in different businesses.
Researchers found that increasing the number of women’s bathrooms, or adding unisex bathrooms, could do wonders for stores’ bottom lines.
“In a service setting, like restaurants or movie theatres, a positive washroom experience is something people expect, and inadequate facilities can have a strong negative impact on whatever product or service a business is providing,” said Tim Huh, lead author of the study and Canada Research Chair in Operations Excellence and Business Analytics at the UBC Sauder School of Business.
The best way to achieve equal lineups for both men and women is to change all bathrooms to unisex, researchers said, but that’s not ideal because unisex bathrooms require more total space.
Instead, researchers suggest creating a small number of unisex bathrooms combined with gender-specific bathrooms to create flexible space.
“Unisex washrooms can be more allocated to women when the women’s washroom is at capacity. Once a line starts to form at the unisex washroom, men will not line up there when there is an empty men’s washroom that they can choose,” said Huh. “This is a good solution in many cases.”