April 30, 2021
Atmosphere, options and safety at the top of consumers’ list
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Survey conducted by Division of Agriculture initiative looks at consumer priorities
- Data collected from 199 southwestern Arkansas residents
- Survey results at uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources
LITTLE ROCK — A friendly atmosphere, options, and safety measures were southwestern Arkansans’ top three values in choosing which restaurants and stores to frequent, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
The survey was conducted in March by CREATE BRIDGES, an initiative of the Division of Agriculture’s Community and Economic Development Department, based in Little Rock. CREATE BRIDGES is an acronym for “Celebrating Retail, Accommodations, Tourism and Entertainment by Building Rural Innovations and Developing Growth Economies.”
The survey received responses from 199 residents living in Howard, Little River, and Sevier counties.
Julianne Dunn, economic educator for the Division of Agriculture, said the most popular products purchased were clothing and locally made or crafted goods, according to the survey results.
“Additionally, a majority of respondents want the conveniences added during the pandemic to remain, such as ordering online, picking up at the store and curbside delivery,” Dunn said.
CREATE BRIDGES is designed to bring two three-county regions together to collaborate, gather data, develop and implement strategies to assist small, rural businesses in retaining and expanding their customer base.
The CREATE BRIDGES 3C’s Region, consisting of Howard, Little River, and Sevier counties, was selected in the fall of 2018. Like other programs and agencies, however, CREATE BRIDGES administrators had to reassess their objectives in 2020 while facing the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We agreed that consumers’ needs and desires may have changed as a result of the pandemic and that it would be beneficial to small retail businesses to know what their customers sought,” Vickie Williamson, economic development director for Little River County, said.
Williamson and Tiffany Maurer, economic development director for Sevier County, generated a short list of questions in January for consumers to answer online.
All respondents were entered into a drawing for a gift card as an incentive to participate. There were 199 responses across the three counties, providing helpful data and comments for local businesses. The complete survey results are available at www.uaex.uada.edu/createbridgesresources.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service