‘These results show the difficulties of companies attempting to provide public goods, as potential customers are crowded out by non-paying members of the public…”
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A recent scientific analysis of cell-phone data revealed that Starbucks‘ virtue-signaling decision to allow anyone to use its restrooms and loiter in its business without purchase had resulted in a 7.3 percent decline in patronage.
The findings, as reported by the conservative Powerline blog, were published this month by researches from the University of Texas and Boston College, in an article titled “The Perils of Private Provision of Public Goods.”
The paper noted that its methods had ruled out other mitigating factors, such as Starbucks’s public disclosures, by analyzing its store attendance relative to other coffee shops and restaurants that were not franchises.
Staggeringly, the decline was much larger for stores located near homeless shelters, including drops of up to 84 percent, it said. It also reduced the amount of time paying customers spent at the establishment.
Starbucks made the decision after weathering accusations of racism in May 2018 from two black men who were waiting on a friend before ordering.
In response to the negative publicity and threats of litigation, it closed its stores for a day of sensitivity training and reopened with its newly inclusive policy.
But despite the underlying claim of racism, the researchers found that the new policy effectively discouraged all customers.
“Wealthier customers reduced their visits more, but black and white customers were equally deterred,” it said.
There was, however, one positive benefit to the community: fewer homeless people using the streets as their personal toilet.
“The policy led to fewer citations for public urination near Starbucks locations, but had no effect on other similar public order crimes,” said the report.
“These results show the difficulties of companies attempting to provide public goods, as potential customers are crowded out by non-paying members of the public,” it concluded.