BBB reports Americans' trust in business has dropped

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By The Staff

Better Business Bureau announced findings from its second BBB/Gallup Trust in Business Index survey, noting American consumers say in a seven-month period their trust in businesses has fallen in 13 of 15 industries measured, with an overall composite Index decline in consumer trust of 14 percent. And nearly half (47 percent) of those surveyed say they have only "some, very little or no trust at all" in companies they do business with in everyday life.

The survey and Index, which measure consumer trust in businesses that they regularly deal with, were commissioned by BBB and conducted by Gallup. Based on its findings BBB will organize a business forum, ultimately geared toward reversing the current downward trend in trust between consumers and businesses. The BBB Forum will bring together a broad cross section of senior leadership from across industries examined in its survey, including representation from small and medium enterprises, as well as multinational corporations doing business in North America.

"Only 33 percent or less of Americans reports having a 'great deal' or 'quite a lot of trust' in 11 of 15 industries measured in the survey," said Charlie Mattingly, President/CEO of the Louisville BBB.

The first BBB/Gallup Trust in Business survey was conducted in September 2007; the second in April 2008. Consumers were asked to indicate their degree of trust in businesses using six categories: A Great Deal of Trust, Quite a Lot of Trust, Some

Trust, Very Little Trust, No Trust or Don't Know.

From the first to second survey, nine industries had a 10 percent or more drop in the combined "A Great Deal of Trust" and "Quite a Lot a lot of Trust" grouping, including:

Auto dealers : -19 percent

Real estate brokers: -19 percent

Department stores: -16 percent

Gas stations: -15 percent

Another nine industries experienced a greater than 10 percent increase in the combined "Very Little Trust" and "No Trust" grouping, including:

Home improvement stores: +33 percent

Banks, financial institutions and stock brokers: +30 percent

Department stores: +27 percent

Gas stations: +27 percent

Department Stores and Gas Stations ranked in the top four in both the "Most Trusted" (dropped) and "Least Trusted" (gained) groupings. And only the Banks, Financial Institutions and Stock Brokers segment saw a greater than five percent change in the actual percentage of consumer responses in both the "Most Trusted" (dropped) and "Least Trusted" (gained) groupings.

When asked what factors affect their trust in businesses, 77 percent of consumers cited increasing prices of food, healthcare and energy as having major negative impacts. Seventy seven percent also said the actions of our nation's most important companies affect the trust they have in businesses they deal with every day.

When asked what would strengthen their trust in businesses surveyed, 86 percent of respondents said it would be "very" or "somewhat" helpful for businesses to allow credible third-party assessment of their performance. In contrast, only 58 percent said having government more actively involved in regulating performance would be "very" or "somewhat" helpful.