By  on May 9, 2005

NEW YORK — U.S. consumers don’t believe that they benefit from retail mergers or acquisitions, and say the change often results in higher prices and declining customer service, according to a survey released Thursday by consulting firm Accenture.

The study surveyed 1,002 consumers in the U.S. The majority, or 54 percent, said they don’t believe they benefit from retail mergers or acquisitions. Nearly half, or 42 percent, said that retail mergers or acquisitions result in higher prices, while only 24 percent believe that lower prices result. About one-third, or 32 percent, said the mergers or acquisitions result in worse customer service compared with 23 percent who believe customer service improves.

“When companies make the decision to merge with or acquire another company, it is critical that they treat consumers as one of their most important shareholders,” said Jeff Smith, global managing partner, Accenture’s Retail & Consumer Goods and Service practice, in a statement.

Smith suggested that merged companies proactively develop a consumer retention strategy that includes communication with consumers about the intended benefits of the merger by employees who have regular contact with shoppers.

Many consumers surveyed did recognize some benefits of retail merger activity. More than half, or 53 percent, saw a greater variety of products and services offered, and nearly half, or 47 percent, said mergers resulted in more store locations.

In addition, 58 percent of those surveyed said that they don’t benefit from consumer goods manufacturing mergers.

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