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WASHINGTON and NEW YORK -- Two recent consumer surveys offer different takes on what Americans think of Wal-Mart and whether negative publicity has scarred its chances for future success.
A survey released late last week by the Wake Up Wal-Mart Campaign, a union-led, anti-Wal-Mart group, suggested that nearly four in 10 Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Wal-Mart. The survey, which was billed as the "first national survey of public attitudes and opinions about Wal-Mart" by Zogby International, said American adults hold an increasingly negative view of the world's biggest retailer.
The poll found that 56 percent of American adults agreed with the statement "Wal-Mart is bad for America. It may provide low prices, but these prices come with a high moral and economic cost." By contrast, only 39 percent of American adults agreed with the statement "I believe Wal-Mart is good for America. It provides low prices and saves consumers money every day."
Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com, interpreted the results as a sign that "Wal-Mart's public image is in a tailspin."
The Zogby poll, commissioned by WakeUpWalMart.com, was a national telephone survey of 1,012 adults conducted by Zogby International from Nov. 15 through Nov. 18 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
In another take on how Americans perceive Wal-Mart, a nationwide Internet survey conducted for How America Shops in September 2005 reported that 86 percent of Americans shop Wal-Mart. In the same survey 83 percent of Wal-Mart shoppers were aware of the news coverage about Wal-Mart, but only 11 percent were shopping there less as a result.
"The reality of shopping life is that when the merchandise and the prices are right, the majority of shoppers will leave their opinions at the door and enter to shop," said Candace Corlett, principal at WSL Strategic Retail in New York.
Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail, added, "Wal-Mart should be concerned about even 11 percent of its shoppers. Because when you're the size of Wal-Mart, every single shopper lost counts."