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Holiday Shoppers Holding out for Discounts

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Contrary to forecasts of an improved holiday shopping season, 2009 retail sales are down from last year as concerns over jobs cause Americans to spend less and wait for bargain prices, according to research by America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS. 

Of those consumers who have not shopped yet, 95.1% say they will wait until December 24 in order to find sale items, according to shoppers polled December 5-6 2009. Only 3.82% of parents say they finished shopping for their children's gifts and 58% say they are waiting for large discounts (as high as 60-70%) later in the season to finish their shopping.

"The shopping season is a repeat of last year," said C. Britt Beemer, CEO and founder of ARG. For example, shopping levels on Cyber Monday were flat at 28.7% (consumers saying they shopped online that day), compared with 27.1% last year. "More shoppers are waiting for better deals and stores just aren't giving them big enough discounts," Beemer said.

Discount Retail Strong

Discount retailers in general have fared well this year. Wal-Mart continued to draw shoppers during the December 5-6 weekend: 72.2% of consumers said they shopped there, compared with 69.1% last year.

Overall, many consumers say they spent most at discount retailers over the weekend:

  • 27.6% spent most at Wal-Mart, compared with 25.7% last year.
  • 9.9% spent most at JCPenney, compared with 6.5% last year.
  • 5.1% spent most at K-Mart, compared with 2.6% last year.

Concerns Over Debt, Jobs

Overall, consumers feel pressured from debt this year as 65.3% say they will spend less this Christmas, according to an earlier survey, the Consumer Mind Reader, conducted by ARG.

Job fears are at the highest levels recorded at ARG in 30 years with 38% of consumers saying concerns about keeping or getting a job are causing them to spend less this holiday season, compared with 26% last year.

The ARG consumer confidence number is at a very low 46.1%, compared with 80% last year. Meanwhile, the number of consumers postponing big purchases is up to 16.9% this year compared with 11.7% the same time last year.

Additional sources: Reuters, RTO Online

About the data: The Christmas Retail survey was conducted by America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS Global Equity Research December 5-6, 2009 and consisted of telephone interviews with 1,000 US consumers. The Consumer Mind Reader survey was conducted by ARG November 12-14, 2009 and consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews.


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