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June 26, 2020

Maine consumers say social distancing, health precautions in business matter

Consumers pay attention to how Maine businesses comply with health guidelines and take precautions against COVID-19, a new survey shows.

Nearly 3,000 people across the state responded to a poll conducted by the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber from June 4-12, according to a press release Thursday. The online poll asked 20 questions about the importance of social distancing at a place of business, attitudes about the use of protective face masks, how consumers communicate their feelings about safety, and other topics.

“Social distancing is good business, but we didn’t know how impactful until this survey,” said SMMC Executive Director Cory King in the release. “It’s not absolute — no survey is — but clearly 40% to 65% of Maine consumers factor social distancing and masking into their business patronage decisions.

“We knew there were some people who felt this way, but these numbers really bear it out.”

Other findings of the survey include the following.

  • One-quarter of all survey respondents said they have left a business without completing an intended purchase because they felt unsafe due to those around them not practicing safe social distancing practices.
  • An additional 25% of respondents said they would leave a business without purchasing an item if they were to be in that situation.
  • Over 50% of respondents said they have vowed to not return to a business that had unsafe social distancing practices.
  • A business that is not practicing social distancing adequately has a one-in-three chance that a customer will write a negative social media post about the business or tell someone else about the experience.
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents say they would travel over 10 miles to shop and eat in a community that pledged to follow safe social distancing practices, or at least consider doing so.
  • However, the survey also found that 21% of respondents agreed with the statement “If they force me to wear a mask I will go somewhere else.”

The survey results come as a coalition of Maine business groups on Thursday launched a statewide advertising and marketing campaign to encourage consumers to comply with health precautions and to practice courtesy toward employees.

The Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber serves Bath, Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell and a dozen other surrounding communities.

To read the full survey report, click here.

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