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Yahoo Finance reports on a new study from the University of Texas at Dallas and Boston College, saying that the retailer's decision to make its restrooms available to everyone - even non-customers - may be hurting foot traffic in its stores.

According to the story, "Since opening its bathroom doors to the public in the wake of a controversial incident in Philadelphia, the coffee giant has seen a 6.8% drop in store attendance per month relative to other coffee shops nearby."

The story quotes David Solomon, Assistant Professor at Boston College Carroll School of Management, as saying, “When you throw open the policy to let people come in and just use the bathrooms and the tables, maybe people come in and find the bathrooms are dirty, and the tables are crowded. And so they don't buy the coffee as well.”

Starbucks disputes the findings, saying that its numbers show that store traffic is up.
KC's View:
Starbucks didn't have a lot of options, from a public relations perspective, but to open its bathrooms even to non-customers. As I recall, the decision was prompted by a store manager calling the cops on an actual customer who wanted to use the bathroom … because race was an issue in tat call, Starbucks had to defuse the situation.

I have no idea whose numbers are right. I will say this, as someone who goes to a lot of Starbucks around the country on a relatively frequent basis - even since the open door policy was announced, I generally find the Starbucks rest rooms to be clean and available - certainly a lot more pleasant than McDonald's bathrooms.