Perceptions of service quality dimensions and patronage of street food vendors in South African townships

C.E. Eresia-Eke, G. Milongo, and N.B. Mogotsi

Vol 16 | Issue 1, pp. 100-112


Street  food  vendors  are  common  in South  Africa’s  townships  and  are  typically patronised by individuals  in lower- income brackets. The extent to which service quality considerations play a role in the patronage of such informal, survivalist food businesses remains largely unexplored as service quality studies tend to focus more on well- established businesses.  In  response  to  this  shortcoming,   this  empirical  study   investigates  whether   customers’ perceptions of service quality – based on the dimensions of tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy – are related to repeat patronage of street food vendors. The researchers assumed a positivist philosophical disposition and relied on data collected from a purposive sample of patrons to investigate the possible existence of relationships between service quality dimensions and repeat patronage. Results revealed favourable perception scores for tangibles, assurance and reliability but not for responsiveness and empathy. The service quality perceptions of first-time customers were  also  shown  to be statistically  different from those  of repeat  patrons.  Interestingly, while findings point to the existence of statistically  significant relationships between  service  quality dimensions and  repeat patronage, the  weak  and  moderate strengths of the  identified relationships  highlight that  patronage considerations for the studied  population  possibly  lie outside  the five dimensions of service  quality.

Keywords:       customer perceptions; street vending; food; service quality; patronage; townships

Back to Volume 16 issue 1

This article may be downloaded from the following locations:


Alhkami, A.A. & Alarussi, A.S. 2016. ‘Service quality dimensions and customer satisfaction in telecommunication companies’, Asian Journal of Business and Management, 4(3): 117-126.

Baker, J., Parasuraman, A., Grewal, D. & Voss, G.B. 2002. ‘The influence of multiple store environment cues on perceived merchandise value and patronage intentions’, Journal  of Marketing, 66(2): 120-141.

Baloglu, S., Busser,  J., Kincaid, C. & Mao, Z. 2010. ‘What really brings them back? The impact of tangible quality on affect and  intention for casual  dining restaurant patrons’,  International Journal  of Contemporary  Hospitality Management, 22(2): 209-220.

Bougoure, U.S. & Neu, M.K. 2010. ‘Service quality in the Malaysian fast food industry: An examination using DINESERV’, Services Marketing Quarterly, 31(2): 194-212.

Brown, B. & Rammidi, G. 2014. ‘Manifestations of service culture among street vendors in Botswana’, European  Scientific Journal, 10(10): 79-98.

Bvuma,  S. & Marnewick,  C. 2020.  ‘Sustainable livelihoods  of township  small,  medium  and  micro enterprises towards growth and development’,  Sustainability,  12(8): 1-17.

Cant,  M.C. 2017.  ‘The availability of infrastructure  in townships:  Is there  hope  for township  businesses?’,  International Review of Management and Marketing, 7(4): 108-115.

Cant, M.C. & Rabie,  C. 2018. ‘Township SMME sustainability: A South African perspective’, Acta Universitatis Danubius:Œconomica, 14(7): 227-247.

Choi, J., Lee, A. & Ok, C. 2013. ‘The effects of consumers’ perceived risk and benefit on attitude and behavioral  intention: A study of street  food’, Journal  of Travel and Tourism Marketing, 30(3): 222-237.

Dabestani, R., Shahin, A., Saljoughian,  M. & Shirouyehzad, H. 2016. ‘Importance-performance analysis  of service  quality dimensions for the customer groups  segmented by DEA’, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 33(2): 160-177.

Dancey, C.P. & Reidy, J. 2007. Statistics Without Maths for Psychology. Adelaide: Pearson Education.

Datta, K.S. & Vardhan,  J. 2017.  ‘A SERVQUAL-based framework for assessing quality of international branch  campuses in UAE: A management students’  perspective’, SAGE Open,  7(1): p.2158244016676294.

Du Plooy, A.T., Van Zyl, D. & De Jager, J.W. 2012. ‘Drivers of perceived service quality in selected informal grocery  retail stores in Gauteng, South Africa’, Southern  African Business Review, 16(1): 94-121.

Eresia-Eke, C.E., Stephanou, M.A. & Swanepoel, R. 2018.  ‘Service quality perceptions of campus-based food outlets’, Acta Commercii, 18(1): 1-10.

Esmaeilpour,  M., Mohamadi,  Z. & Rajabi, A. 2016.  ‘Effect of dimensions of service  quality on the brand  equity in the fast food industry’, Studies in Business and Economics, 11(3): 30-46.

Fida,  B.A., Ahmed,  U., Al-Balushi, Y. & Singh,  D. 2020.  ‘Impact  of service  quality  on customer  loyalty and  customer satisfaction  in Islamic banks  in the Sultanate of Oman’, SAGE Open,  10(2): p.2158244020919517.

Food and Agriculture Organisation. 2009. Ensuring quality and safety of street foods. Available at: [Accessed: 5 June  2019].

Gagic,  S., Tesanovic, D. & Jovicic, A. 2013.  ‘The vital components of restaurant quality that affect guest  satisfaction’, Turizam, 17(4): 166-176.

Hansen, K.V. 2014. ‘Development of SERVQUAL and DINESERV for measuring meal experiences in eating establishments’, Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 14(2): 116-134.

Hossain,  M.A., Hossain,  M.M. & Chowdhury,  T.H. 2018.  ‘Understanding the success of private universities: An empirical investigation from graduates’  perspective’,  International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 35(1): 145-162.

Husin, N.K.M., Romle, A.R., Udin, M.M., Shahuri,  N.S.S.  & Yusoff, M.S.M. 2016.  ‘An examination  of service  quality in Malaysian  public university’, World Applied Sciences Journal, 34(4): 423-430.

Izogo, E.E. 2017.  ‘Customer  loyalty in telecom  service  sector:  The role of service  quality and  customer  commitment’, The TQM Journal, 29(1): 19-36.

Izogo,  E.E.  & Ogba,  I. 2015.  ‘Service  quality, customer  satisfaction and  loyalty in automobile  repair  services sector’, International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 32(3): 250-269.

Ju, Y., Back, K.J., Choi, Y. & Lee, J.S.  2019.  ‘Exploring Airbnb service  quality attributes  and  their asymmetric  effects  on customer  satisfaction’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, 77: 342-352.

Kashif, M., Wan Shukran,  S.S.,  Rehman, M.A. & Sarifuddin,  S. 2015.  ‘Customer  satisfaction  and  loyalty in Malaysian Islamic banks: A PAKSERV investigation’,  International Journal of Bank Marketing, 33(1): 23-40.

Kim, W.G., Ng, C.Y.N. & Kim, Y. 2009.  ‘Influence of institutional  DINESERV on customer  satisfaction, return  intention, and word-of-mouth’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, 28: 10-17.

Kwok, S. Y., Jusoh, A. & Khalifah, Z. 2016a.  ‘A conceptual model  of tourist  satisfaction’,  Pertanika  Journal  of Social Sciences & Humanities, 24(1): 505-518.

Kwok, S.Y., Jusoh, A. & Khalifah, Z. 2016b. ‘The influence of service quality on satisfaction: Does gender  really matter?’, Intangible Capital, 12(2): 444-461.

Lee, J.H., Kim, H.D., Ko, Y.J. & Sagas, M. 2011.  ‘The influence  of service  quality on satisfaction  and intention: A gender segmentation strategy’,  Sport Management Review, 14(1): 54-63.

Malhotra,  N.K., Ulgado, F.M., Agarwal, J., Shainesh, G. & Wu, L. 2005.  ‘Dimensions of service  quality in developed and developing economies:  Multi‐country  cross‐cultural comparisons’,  International Marketing Review, 22(3): 256-278.

Marnewick, C. 2014. ‘Information and communications technology adoption amongst  township micro and small business: The case of Soweto’, South African Journal  of Information Management, 16(1): 1-12.

Mmutle, T. & Shonhe, L. 2017.  ‘Customers’  perception  of service  quality and  its impact  on reputation  in the  hospitality industry’, African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure,  6(3): 1-25.

Moghavvemi, S., Lee, S.T. & Lee, S.P.  2018. ‘Perceived  overall service  quality and customer  satisfaction’, International Journal of Bank Marketing, 36(5): 908-930.

Mukhola, M.S. 2015.  ‘At the periphery  of the mainstream economy: Reality of informal street  vendors in South Africa’, Journal of Public Administration, 50(2): 308-317.

Nell, C. E. & Cant, M. C. 2014. ‘Determining student  perceptions regarding the most important service  features and overall satisfaction  with the service  quality of a higher education institution’, Management, 19(2): 63-87.

Nwokah,  N.G. & Adiele, K. 2018.  ‘Predictory  effect  of food quality on patronage of quick-service restaurants  in Port- Harcourt, Nigeria’, African Journal  of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure,  7(1): 1-11.

Ohonba, A., Ngepah,  N. & Simo-Kengne,  B. 2019. ‘Maternal education and child health  outcomes in South Africa: A panel data  analysis’, Development  Southern  Africa, 36(1): 33-49.

Pan,  Y. & Zinkhan,  G.M. 2006.  ‘Determinants  of retail patronage: A meta-analytical perspective’,  Journal  of Retailing, 82(3): 229-243.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A. & Berry, L.L. 1988. ‘SERVQUAL:  A multiple-item scale  for measuring consumer perceptions of service  quality’, Journal  of Retailing, 64: 12-40.

Priporas,  C.V., Stylos, N., Vedanthachari, L.N. & Santiwatana, P. 2017. ‘Service quality, satisfaction,  and customer  loyalty in Airbnb accommodation in Thailand’, International Journal of Tourism Research, 19(6): 693-704.

Quinlan, C., Babin, B., Carr, J., Griffin, M. & Zikmund, W. 2015. Business Research Methods. Andover: Cengage  Learning EMEA.

Rheinlander, T. 2006. Street food quality: A matter of neatness and trust. Doctoral dissertation, Copenhagen, University of Copenhagen. Available at:  [Accessed:  21 June 2019]

Saliba, K. & Zoran, A.G. 2018. ‘Measuring higher education services  using the SERVQUAL model’, Journal of Universal Excellence, 4: 160-179.

Santhi,  R. & Ganesh, R. 2015.  ‘Addressing  service  quality to increase  students’  satisfaction and  retention  in Malaysian private higher education institutions’, American  Journal  of Economics, 5(2): 243-250.

Steyn, N.P., Labadarios, D. & Nel, J.H. 2011. ‘Factors which influence the consumption  of street  foods and fast foods in South Africa: A national  survey’, Nutrition Journal,  10(1): 1-10.

Stutter, N. 2017. The social life of street food: Exploring the social sustainability of street food in Hanoi, Vietnam. Doctoral thesis, Cardiff, Cardiff University. Available at: 2017.pdf. [Accessed:  16 August 2019].

Teeroovengadum, V. 2020.  ‘Service quality dimensions as predictors of customer  satisfaction and  loyalty in the banking industry: Moderating  effects  of gender’,  European Business Review, 1-19.

Tegambwage, A.G. 2017.  ‘The relative  importance  of service  quality dimensions: An empirical  study  in the Tanzanian higher education industry’, International Research  Journal of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies, 3(1): 76-86.

Thulo, L. 2015.  The state  of SA’s township  entrepreneurship. Available at: state-of-SAstownship-entrepreneurship [Accessed: 5 May 2020].

Tucci, L. & Talaga,  J. 2000.  ‘Determinants  of consumer perceptions of service  quality in restaurants’, Journal  of Food Products Marketing, 6(2): 3-13.

Van Truong,  H., Pham,  C.H. & Vo, N.H. 2016.  ‘Service  quality and  students level of satisfaction  in private  colleges  in Vietnam’, International Journal of Financial  Research, 7(3): 121-128.

Wang,  D. & Nicolau, J.L. 2017.  ‘Price determinants of sharing  economy  based  accommodation rental: A study of listings from 33 cities on’, International Journal of Hospitality Management, 62: 120-131.

World Bank. 2014. Economics of South African Townships: Special Focus on Diepsloot. Washington, DC: Worldbank Group.

Wu, P.H., Huang,  C.Y. & Chou,  C.K. 2014.  ‘Service expectation, perceived service  quality, and customer  satisfaction in food and beverage industry’, International Journal of Organizational  Innovation, 7(1): 171-180.

Yarimoglu, E. K. 2014.  ‘A review on dimensions  of service quality models’, Journal of Marketing Management,  2(2): 79-93. Yousapronpaiboon, K. 2014. ‘SERVQUAL: Measuring higher education service quality in Thailand’, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116: 1088-1095.

Zietsman, M., Mostert, P. & Svensson, G. 2019. ‘Perceived price and service quality as mediators between price-fairness and perceived value in business banking relationships’,  International Journal of Bank Marketing, 37(1): 2-19.

Back to Volume 16 issue 1