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    Charleston, SC, November 7, 2003 -- America’s Research Group, one of the country’s leading consumer research firms, today releases the holiday shopping predictions of its chairman, Britt Beemer. Known for his detailed reports and honest opinion, Beemer is one of the country’s premier marketing strategists and has written two books: Predatory Marketing: What Everyone in Business Needs to Know to Win Today’s Consumer; and It Takes a Prophet to Make a Profit: 15 Trends That Are Reshaping American Business. Beemer travels the country speaking to business leaders, clients and the media. His firm studies consumer behavior and has interviewed more than 5 million consumers on behalf of its clients in the retailing and manufacturing fields.

    “My projection for Christmas 2003 is a 4.8% increase over a year ago, due to consumers spending more on each individual gift and consumers buying more gifts this year than last year,” Beemer says.

    Beemer’s holiday predictions have come within .5% of the actual 8 of the last 9 years. His forecast of 2.8% last year was spot-on.

    Here are Beemer’s highlights from the ARG Christmas 2003 survey:
    • Christmas week will be the big vacation week, so retailers should not count on the weekend before Christmas to save them.
    • Consumers are moving toward shopping more from the first of December until the weekend before Christmas.
    • Retailers note: shoppers wanting 50% off continues to grow, so waiting until a few days before Christmas to advertise 50% off could significantly affect Christmas shopping.
    • This will be an even bigger gift certificate/gift card Christmas, breaking last year’s record-setter.
    • The number of persons getting Christmas gifts rose from 9.1 last year to 9.76 this year.
    • The gifts this year will be much nicer, as the average amount spent on gifts is at $36.63 this year compared to $32.28 last year. The top price range last year was $21-$25, but this year it’s $36-$50.
    • Affinity credit card programs rewarding shoppers for using a particular card have taken hold this year, allowing consumers to feel they can spend more.
    • Home entertaining is back! The number of Americans planning to entertain this Christmas is at a ten-year high.
    • Those planning to shop on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, is at the lowest since 1997: “crowds” and “too early to get the real deals” are driving this new lower trend.
    • “Made in America” and patriotic-themed gifts are back to pre-September 11th levels and are much less important.
    • With no “must-have” gift item this year, consumers will pay more attention to retailer advertising and are giving more Christmas ornaments as gifts.
    • The Internet will be bigger this year and E-Bay’s businesses should be better. Not having a store is not as big a negative today, but having a store location adds greater security and confidence for consumers.

    For the complete survey, historical comparison or to interview Britt Beemer, contact Pfund + Fleck, 212.481.7900; [email protected]

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