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    Charleston, SC, Sept 16, 2010.... More Americans believe that they are worse off financially today than they were one year ago, according to findings of the latest Consumer Mind Reader(tm) survey released today by America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS. Close to half (48.5%) said they are worse off, while 46.5% said they are better off.

    This serious lack of financial confidence has resulted in the weakest rating in over 20 years for planned purchases of $1,000 or more. Only 6.1% plan to spend $1,000 in the next two months, a finding that is weaker than the previous low of 8.2% in January this year.

    "These survey numbers are disastrous for the struggling retail industry just as we enter the most important shopping season of the year," said C. Britt Beemer, CEO and Founder of ARG. "Yet retailers still have a chance to win shoppers over with big discounts and savvy marketing," he added.

    Today's shopper's mindset is dramatically revealed by the survey's finding that 76.7% of consumers are trying to cut back on how much they spend and that 64.2% acknowledge that they are shopping less.

    In contrast, only 14.8% of consumers now believe that their bills and debts are a big problem, a drop of eight percentage points from the 23.3% a year ago who had debt problems. However, the improved perception about bills and debt is negated by the weakest job security perception in over a year.

    The ARG/UBS Consumer Mind Reader Survey consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews conducted September 7 to 10, 2010, at ARG headquarters in Charleston, SC. The error factor is plus or minus 3.8%.

    America's Research Group, one of the nation's foremost consumer research and strategic marketing firms, marked its 30th anniversary in 2009. CEO Britt Beemer is a key resource and advisor to leading brands and top retailers. He is author of The Customer Rules, published by McGraw-Hill.

    UBS Global Equity Research provides the broad global perspective and in-depth analysis that institutional investors need to make good investment decisions. With more than 600 analysts, associates, strategists and economists in EMEA, APAC and the Americas, UBS covers approximately 85% of the world market capitalization - over 3,300 companies worldwide across 46 different markets. In addition to UBS's disciplined fundamental research, clients also rely on UBS for corporate and expert access to give them the insight they need, when they need it.

    Barbara Burns