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Study: Bad odors, dirty restrooms among top five store turn-offs

BY Marianne Wilson

Retailers who fail to maintain a clean, well-maintained store are putting themselves at a strong competitive disadvantage.

That’s the takeaway from a new survey conducted by Harris Poll for the Cintas Corp., which found that 93% of U.S. adults would not return to a retailer if they experienced some type of issue related to the facility. The top five factors that would turn patrons away from a store were:

• General bad odor – 78%
• Dirty restrooms (e.g., floors, stalls, mirrors, odor) – 66%
• Dirty surfaces (e.g., dust on displays, dust bunnies on floors) – 65%
• Entryway cleanliness (e.g., cigarette butts, overflowing trash cans, unkempt appearance) – 60%
• Dressing room conditions (e.g., dirty mirrors, dirty floors, broken locks, lighting issues) – 56%

Consumers also cited broken or cracked glass (53%), plumbing issues (e.g., toilets and/or sinks not working) (52%), slippery floors (e.g., wetness, dirt/dust) (52%), noise (e.g., loud music, loud employees, phones ringing) (43%), lighting issues (e.g., light fixtures out, not working properly, poor lighting) (40%) and temperature (e.g., too hot/too cold) (30%) as factors that would influence them in choosing to not return to a retail store.

The study also found that gender plays a role in which factors influence a customer to avoid a retail facility. Women are less likely to return to a facility with poor dressing room conditions (65%) than males (47%).

Conversely, males (33%) consider temperature more strongly than women (27%) when deciding to return to a store.

“Today’s consumer has an almost unlimited choice when deciding where to shop, whether it’s another store across the street or online,” said John Engel, senior marketing manager, Cintas. “With this type of competition, retailers need to understand why their customers return, and more importantly, why they don’t.”

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