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Study Measures Negative Experiences

BY CSA STAFF

Jersey City, N.J., Unhappy customers can mean trouble for retailers. A study by Verde Group and the Baker Retailing Initiative at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania reported that more than 50% of Americans say if a friend or colleague told them about a negative in-store experience, they would avoid the store, too. About 50% of consumers have had a poor shopping experience, and 31% tell an average of four friends, The Star Ledger reported. The survey generated 1,200 responses from U.S. consumers who made purchases worth less than $2,500 during the four weeks leading up to Christmas 2005, with the average purchase price at $163. Typical problems were slow lines, trouble finding products, staff that didn’t know the product or lacked courtesy, and parking difficulties. “This study is unlike anything we’ve seen before because it shows that for every 100 American shoppers, 64 people will be told about a store’s poor products or services, and no matter what the store does to entice shoppers, these people will not set foot in their store,” said Paula Courtney, president of Verde Group.

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Wild Oats Rating Revised to Positive Due to Improved Credit Metrics

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it revised its viewpoint of supermarket chain Wild Oats Markets Inc. by upping its rating from negative to positive. “The outlook change reflects expectations that ratings could be revised in the next six months if the company’s positive operating trends continue,” Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Stella Kapur said. The revision reflects the improved operating results and credit metrics. Standard & Poor also reportedly affirmed its ‘CCC+’ corporate credit and other ratings on the grocery chain. Wild Oats has currently accumulated $172 million in debt.

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Best Buy Plans to Focus More on Small Businesses

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, The VP of Best Buy Co. Inc.’s business division said that it plans to focus on small business customers as a source of growth. “We think that right now there doesn’t exist anyone that can be a single point of contact for small businesses to obtain—or to even be aware of— technology solutions that can improve their business,” Tom Healy said. Healy said Best Buy will use its so-called “Geek Squad agents” to sell technology to small businesses. Best Buy’s 12,000 “Geek Squad” employees offer technology assistance, such as making house calls, to help customers set up new computers. The retailer plans to hire roughly 600 new Geek employees this year.

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