--Retail Guru Says Consumers Will Continue To Reduce Spending In The New Year

Nearly a third of Americans consciously reduced their spending in 2001, and will continue to do so in this new year,” warns Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group (ARG). “So retailers will need to develop new strategies for survival this year.” The Charleston-based consumer behavior research and marketing firm has been surveying consumers on their holiday shopping activities every weekend since late October. ARG’s holiday report card in a post-9/11 recession-conscious America reveals among other things:
  • While 20.5% said they would spend more in 2002, this figure was undercut by the 22.9% who will spend less
  • Discounters led in all shopping categories with 90.3% of shoppers spending part of their holiday budget at Wal-Mart, K-mart, and Target
  • Apparel specialty stores took the biggest hit with shopping levels dropping from a high of 31.7% in 2000 to new low of 19.9% in 2001
  • Big sales changed the minds of nearly 44% of shoppers who bought “something nice” for themselves this holiday season. Before Christmas, only 33% intended to shop for themselves
  • More gift certificates were given this year then ever before—a whopping 40% increase over previous years. This allowed recipients to take advantage of the big post-holiday sales. So far 70% have cashed their gift certificates during the week following Christmas with about 11% left to shop. This will have a beneficial effect on additional after-Christmas sales

So what immediate action can retailers do to weather the current retail slump? “Stores can begin by focusing on being more active in their communities and improve customer service ” advises Beemer. “Currently our research shows that reputation is more important than price, and consumers will spend at stores that are committed to doing good in their local markets. Management also needs to find more ways to help shoppers get in and get out of stores as efficiently and as pleasantly as possible. Slashing prices alone won’t satisfy customers and won’t make them profitable in the long run. Those merchants who listen to their customer’s needs will be able to survive in this volatile retail environment.”

Britt Beemer is available for interview. Selected questions from the survey are available upon resquest.

America’s Research Group, Ltd. (ARG), is a full service consumer behavior survey research company with more than 22 years experience. ARG has interviewed more than 4 million consumers. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research, the firm works with clients to develop practical and successful marketing strategies for pace-setting companies in the fields of home furnishings, appliance and electronics retailing, banking and finance, automobile dealers, department stores, specialty and mass merchants. Clients include Sealy Mattress, Kohl’s Department Stores, IKEA, Barnes & Noble, AT&T; Wireless, Eckerd Drugs, Broyhill Furniture, Thomasville Furniture, American Eagle Outfitters and many others.

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