This article examines how individuals react in crowded utilitarian settings and investigates the speciﬁc role of scarcity in the density–dissatisfaction relationship. This paper also highlights the mediating role of affective states (i.e. positive and negative) in determining consumers’ satisfaction or dissatisfaction in these contexts. The results suggest that the scarcity of the situation can reduce the extent to which consumers perceive negative experiences in a dense retail situation. In addition, it supports the critical role played by affective states in mediating the relationship between density perceptions and negative reactions. The article provides potential explanations and managerial insights on how managers can deal with crowding in diverse retail and services situations.