Poll Results: Personal Spending After Bangladesh Building Collapse

A week ago we created a poll on whether the Bangladesh factory collapse has affected your personal shopping habits, and we got a good number of responses (thanks, everyone who took the poll!).

Nearly one in four of you said that you have changed where you shop. In contrast, a third of respondents say that the news have not affected their shopping habits. Within this cross section, however, approximately half answered “none of the above” to the question of what types of businesses they buy from regularly. These categories included large retailers (Wal-Mart, Target), fashion retailers, department stores, electronics, and sportswear.

We were also interested in whether our readers would pay more for products that are sustainably and ethically sourced. This would include safer work conditions, environmental regulations, potentially higher wages for factory workers—all of which would drive up prices. More than half of respondents answered that they would “unequivocally” pay more for ethically sourced versions of items they buy on a regular basis. A quarter said that it would depend on the markup, most citing 10-20% as the acceptable raise in price.

When it comes to the supply chain practices, it is unsurprising that more than half of respondents said they were unfamiliar or somewhat unfamiliar with the practices of the retailers they buy from (39% had said they were “somewhat familiar”).

It’s not realistic to expect consumers to know the supply chain details of every retailer they frequent. Peter Smith wrote a while back that “the whole drive to sell T-shirts for a couple of dollars would need to change” in order to prevent a repeat of the Bangladesh disaster. Therefore, it is just as important for consumers to readjust their conceptions of how much an item should cost and, maybe, how many of those T-shirts they really need.

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