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    December 12, 2005, Charleston, SC…. Fifty-seven percent (57.1%) of Americans spent part of their weekend shopping this second week of December, compared to 54.9% over the same weekend last year, according to the findings of a consumer spending survey conducted by America’s Research Group (ARG). The top store for the second weekend in a row was Wal-Mart with 21.8% of this weekend’s shoppers saying they shopped there the most, but this is lower than a year ago when 25.0% felt they spent the most at Wal-Mart.

    Shoppers are going to fewer stores this year with 49.9% going to five stores or less, compared to 43.5% going to the same number of stores last year. At this point, 25.1% have completed all their shopping compared to the 28.7% who had finished by this time last year.

    “This Christmas season is still not over for three fourths of Americans, but so far it looks a lot like last Christmas with the sales coming at the end,” says C. Britt Beemer, CEO and founder of ARG. “We could see over a third of Americans out there on Christmas Eve if the 36.3% who expect to shop on Christmas Eve are not able to get done earlier.”

    On-line shoppers have picked up some since a year ago with 35.3% buying on-line this year compared to 31.8% a year ago. This is about a 10% increase over a year ago.

    This Christmas season has been a series of mixed messages from shoppers with some areas stronger, but other important areas weaker, according to Beemer. Electronics and children’s clothes are still leading the pack this year, while toys are still the big disappointment this holiday season. To date, 31.9% of consumers said they have purchased toys this year, compared with 36.2% last year.

    The numbers of consumers buying something nice for themselves continues to lag from last year, with only 27.8% doing so this year compared to a much bigger 39.7% a year ago.

    More shoppers are unhappy about their shopping experience this year, says Beemer. Almost twenty percent of shoppers (20.9%) say they have walked out of a store where they could not get help. This is up significantly from only 15.5% a year ago.

    Another bigger objection this Christmas is the limited store decorations of 32.1% this year compared to 17.0% last Christmas. Also this Christmas, 19.0% of shoppers would leave a store after learning their staff would not say “Merry Christmas.”

    This survey sample of 812 households has an error factor of +/-4.3%, and was conducted December 9, 2005 to December 11, 2005.

    America's Research Group is the consumer research-focused business development firm that provides clients the insight, strategy and tactics to increase market share. America’s Research Group's expertise in consumer behavior has made it a key resource and advisor to leading brands and top retailers in the nation for 25 years.