(Posted November 28, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A group of Juniata College students will give a presentation on the results of a recent shopping survey they conducted in Huntingdon and surrounding areas at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8 at the Juniata Room in the Day's Inn Hotel in Huntingdon.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

Among the results the students will reveal are that the vast majority of respondents are already Wal-Mart shoppers, going to Wal-Mart stores in Altoona, Lewistown and State College. In addition, the students will explain how most of the survey respondents tend to shop at other stores when they make a trip to Wal-Mart.

"That means there are opportunities for Huntingdon retail businesses, if consumers have easy access to the businesses," says David Lehmann, associate professor of geology who also teaches College Writing Seminar, Juniata's freshman composition course.

Lehmann says the students also will detail a number of other shopping trends revealed in the survey. After the presentation, the students will present the data and surveys to the Huntingdon County Planning Commission. In addition to the statistical results of the survey, the study group will present interpretations about potential negative impacts to local retail businesses in light of the Wal-Mart opening, potential opportunities for existing and new retail businesses, and a comparison of the retired and non-retired community shopping habits.

The students delivered 600 surveys and received nearly 300 surveys in return. "For this kind of survey, anything over a 33 percent response rate is very good," says Dave Widman, associate professor of psychology.
"This was a good project," notes Richard Stahl, Huntingdon County planning director. " Anytime that an educational experience can address a real world problem, everybody benefits."

"The opening of a Wal-Mart in Smithfield is an emotionally charged issue that has received a huge amount of media conjecture," Lehmann says. "However, prior to this survey, nobody had collected data from Huntingdon-area shoppers to access the potential positive and negative impacts of the opening upon local retail businesses. Secondly, the survey will provide entrepreneurs interested in opening local retail businesses with valuable information about local customer shopping preferences."

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.