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Saint Index, national survey, finds that Wal-Mart is always welcome…somewhere else.

The Saint Index©, a new survey by the Hingham, MA-based Saint Consulting Group, confirms Americans’ love-hate relationship with Wal-Mart. Even as the global company revs up a campaign to protect its reputation, and despite Wal-Mart’s undeniable popularity among consumers, almost two-thirds of those surveyed (63%) said that they would oppose a Wal-Mart store if one were proposed in their community.

The first-ever measure of American opinion on real estate development and land-use issues, The Saint Index, was conducted by The Saint Consulting Group. Founded in 1983, The Saint Consulting Group is considered the premier political analyst in the US and UK to concentrate on land-use politics and zoning conflict resolution.

The Saint Index revealed complicated and surprising attitudes about development: one out of five Americans surveyed were found to have opposed a project in their communities. Of that number, 24% opposed “big box” retailers such as Target and K-Mart. According to The Saint Index, only landfills, quarries, power plants, and casinos generate more vehement community opposition than large retail stores. However, respondents singled out Wal-Mart as particularly unwelcome. Older, more affluent consumers were its most likely opponents.

The Center for Economic and Civic Opinion at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell conducted the survey in October and November of 2005, collecting data from 1,000 people across the United States. Findings indicated that Americans are more active and adept at opposing development projects than had been previously imagined.

The Saint Consulting Group launched the Index in order to help businesses discover the source of opposition to development projects, and determine the most effective ways to get more projects approved. In the future, the Group plans to conduct the survey annually in the US and UK, organizing the results in a comprehensive database.

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