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 NEW YORK, Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- As retail competition heats up for this weekend's launch of the busy holiday shopping season, which accounts for 40 percent of yearly profits, many shopping centers are examining policies to keep shoppers in their malls longer and spending more.
 Some malls have implemented smoking bans to please non-smokers, but according to a recent survey of consumer shopping habits by Roper Starch Worldwide Inc., they may be addressing a problem that doesn't exist and in fact, creating a new problem that could hurt their business.
 A random, face-to-face survey was conducted by Roper for The Accommodation Program, on Oct. 16-23 in homes of 2,000 adults. From a list of 13 possible problems with shopping in malls, 90 percent of those surveyed did not cite cigarette smoke as one of the biggest problems. Furthermore, among smokers surveyed, 28 percent said they would shop less often or spend less time at malls that implement smoking bans.
 This news should be particularly discouraging to retailers operating in malls who ban smoking, since the Roper research also showed that smokers spend an average 10 percent more per mall visit than non-smokers.
 "This research indicates that those malls which accommodate both non- smokers and smokers by providing separate areas will create a win-win situation," said Edward B. Keller, executive vice president, Roper Starch Worldwide Inc. "Moreover, the survey results show there are other more pressing issues for mall management than smoking," he added.
 The survey findings may make mall developers and managers think twice about banning smoking in shopping centers, considering shoppers were four times as concerned about high prices in malls (43 percent) than smoking, and more than twice as concerned about crowds (25 percent) and parking (24 percent).
 Retail industry experts agree that alienating customers is not a good business decision. "The retail industry needs to be looking for ways to attract customers, not push them out on the curb," said Peter Glen, author of the customer service book, "It's Not My Department!" "By providing special non-smoking and smoking accommodations to satisfy everyone's preference, consumers and retailers both win," Glen said.
 In preparation for this year's holiday shopping season, a growing number of malls around the country have made the decision to accommodate rather than ban smoking all together. They have joined the nearly 10,000 restaurants, hotels and bowling centers who already are successfully managing the public smoking issue by accommodating both non- smokers and smokers through The Accommodation Program.
 This customer service program, sponsored by Philip Morris U.S.A., assists businesses in enhancing non-smoking and smoking accommodations. Participants in The Accommodation Program are offered free resources to develop separate areas, enhance ventilation systems and train employees. The program also provides signage, free of charge, to communicate the smoking policy of participating establishments. Mall-specific signage is now available for use in shopping centers as well.
 -0- 11/26/93
 /NOTE TO MEDIA: Free photo to accompany this story is available immediately to any media with telephoto receiver or electronic darkroom (PC or Macintosh) that can accept overhead transmissions. To retrieve a photo, please call 214-416-3686
 For more information or a copy of the Roper research findings, please call Lora Rutkowski at Burson-Marsteller at 412-394-6644.
 For commentary on The Accommodation Program, please call Karen Daragan at Philip Morris U.S.A. at 212-880-4146./
 /CONTACT: Lora Rutkowski of Burson-Marsteller, 412-394-6644, for Philip Morris U.S.A.; or Karen Daragan of Philip Morris U.S.A., 212-880-4146/

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JT-KC -- PG001 -- 7900 11/26/93 08:40 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 26, 1993

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