21st Century Retail / ICSC Poll – Support Dropping?

First of all, it’s a press release more than a poll.  Nowhere can I find the actual verbatim questions, detailed methodology or numbers like legitimate polls do.  There’s just a little bit of info, just enough to make it sound remotely credible.

The poll was from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) AKA 21stcenturyretail – A longtime pro-Marketplace Fairness Act group.  The poll results were hardly surprising overall.  But are they going to the well once too often?

It looks like they polled the same types of questions in a May 2012 press release here, vs. the 2013 version just released.  Again, without the real questions we can only go on their press release quotes.

A “key finding” in each year:

2012:  “86% of consumers feel it would be easier to pay sales tax on online purchases at the point-of-purchase rather than at the end-of-the-year on their tax forms, as is the current system.”

2013: “78% of voters feel it would be easier to pay state sales or use tax on online purchases at the time-of-purchase rather than through special forms or when they file their income taxes”

So according to their press release bullet points, support is dropping?

How about what on the face appears to be a whopper regarding the percentage of people who know they are supposed to pay tax on out of state purchases on their state tax forms?

May 2012: “61% of respondents in states that collect sales tax understand that they are required to pay state sales or use tax on online purchases if not collected by the vendor when they file their state income tax.”

October 2013:  “64% of consumers are aware that they are required to pay state sales or use tax on online purchases, if not collected by the online seller, when they file their state income tax. This is up by 23 percentage points since October 2012. (emphasis mine)

Are the people at the ICSC or ORC exceptionally bad at math?  Or was there an incredible decline in knowledge for a few months, then a rapid gain after that?  Shall we graph that?  Or is someone just making stuff up?

The type of poll seems fairly easy to get any desired range of answers, if you frame the questions towards the desired result.   The CARAVAN poll methodology .  Heck, this kind of poll seems perfect to generate a press release with zero actual accountability regarding the questions.  I’m sure I could phrase the questions from a very different point of view and get completely different results.  Some of these benefits are even listed in the service description.

  • “And, of course, responses remain proprietary- belonging only to your organization” – and
  • “Generate news publicity with attention-grabbing survey findings”

There’s some evidence of how intellectually dishonestly these polling questions are in the November 2012 press release.  It’s fairly obvious these are just done occasionally to have another reason for a press release.

“71% of respondents are motivated to shop locally because 68 cents of every dollar spent at a locally-owned retailer stays in the community” or “82% of consumers who support federal legislation do so because “common sense dictates that if you buy a product online you should pay the same sales tax as if you had bought the same product in a store.”

Yes, I’m sure those phrases just rolled off the tongues of those answering the polls.  Classic, meaningless polls.  But at least support appears to be dropping 🙂





  1. […]  21st Century Retail group, AKA International Council of Shopping Centers.  And like my post last year on their press release “poll” there are zero details about the actual questions or methodology – and that’s by […]

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