BRITT BEEMER LOWERS CHRISTMAS 2008 RETAIL FORECAST TO DISMAL MINUS 3.5 PERCENT
Charleston, SC, December 3, 2008... C. Britt Beemer, CEO and Founder of America’s Reasearch Group (ARG) lowered his annual Christmas retail forecast today to minus 3.5% from minus 1% that he predicted in mid-November, based on disappointing data from the third America's Research Group/UBS Christmas 2008 Survey conducted over the weekend and the fact that fewer consumers will give gift cards this year, a finding from survey number two.
"When you look at the numbers, you see that over the weekend consumers were frugal and focused, staying within their budgets and concentrating on the deals and advertised specials," said Beemer. "Add to that the finding that some consumers will give cash or nothing at all instead of gift cards this year makes me very pessimistic," he added. Beemer has correctly predicted Christmas retail sales in 16 of the last 17 years.
Of those consumers who planned to shop over the weekend, 37.0% shopped on Friday and another 37.0% did not shop at all, the highest numbers in over 10 years. Almost one fifth (19.4%) shopped at only one store this year, the highest number since 2001 when 23.5% shopped at only one store.
Seventy percent (70.2%) of consumers said that they stayed within their budgets, an indicator of this year's disciplined shopper. In addition, 88.1% bought items they had seen advertised. Both figures are a nine-year high. Eighty-eight point one percent (88.1%) of consumers shopped at one of the "early bird" specials on Black Friday, a number surpassed only in 2005, when 91.3% hit the specials.
Of those consumers who normally give gift cards but won't this year, 64.4% will give money instead. Only 35.6% said they would give gifts instead, dashing retailers' expectations that fewer gift cards could boost gift sales. Of those consumers who will give fewer gift cards, over a third (36.4%) say that there is a chance they could give nothing at all. These are data from the second America's Research Group/UBS Christmas 2008 survey released November 20.
When asked if the sales were as good this year as compared to four to five years ago, however, 38.4% said "no," the highest figure in the five years the question has been asked in ARG surveys.
Another ominous sign for retail traffic during December is that almost twenty percent (19.1%) of shoppers say they have finished 90% or more of their shopping this year, compared to 13.6% last year. Over sixty percent (63.1%) said that they would finish their shopping in three days or less.
Consumers seem to be shopping less on-line if they can't find an item in the store. When asked if they went on line because they could not find an item in the store, only 12.3% said "yes," a nine-year low.
The one winner this Christmas appears to be Wal-Mart. An amazing 61.3% of consumers shopped at Wal-Mart this year for gifts vs. 59.3% last year. In addition, 78.3% of those shoppers who did not go to Wal-Mart this weekend said they expected to shop there this Christmas season.
The America's Research Group/UBS 2008 Christmas Survey, a Panel Back survey, consisted of 809 telephone interviews from a pool of 849 consumers who said in previous surveys that they intended to shop over Thanksgiving Weekend. It was conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 28 to 30, 2008, at America’s Research Group headquarters in Charleston, SC. The error factor is plus or minus 4.5%.
America's Research Group is one of the nation’s foremost consumer research and strategic marketing firms. CEO Britt Beemer is a key resource and advisor to leading brands and top retailers. He is author of The Customer Rules, a new book published by McGraw-Hill. UBS has teamed with America’s Research Group (ARG) for six surveys this Christmas season.
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 (212) 486-1140