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    Charleston, SC, December 14, 2009... Robust sales of electronics this holiday shopping season are brightening the retail picture as American consumers rush to get the bargains, especially in flat panel TV sets. As result of this major finding of the week's Christmas Retail Survey released today by America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS, consumer trend expert Britt Beemer is raising his forecast of Christmas retail sales to - 1.2% from - 2.9% announced early in November.

    "Electronics sales, especially flat panel TV sets, are flying out the door this Christmas season," says C. Britt Beemer CEO and founder of ARG. "When flat panel TV sets hit the magic $499 price point, sales go up like a rocket," he added, "Twenty years ago, the same thing happened with VCRs when they hit $249 price point."

    For the first time in over 25 years, electronics are virtually tied with toys as the top Christmas gift item. When asked to name the gift item they were buying most often, 30.0% of consumers this year said "electronics" while 30.8% said "toys." The same question received a very different answer last year with only 23.7% naming "electronics" and 33.8% "toys."

    This is the first time in 19 years of conducting Christmas retail surveys, that Beemer has raised his forecast. His predictions have been accurate within a half of 1% over the past 17 of 18 holiday seasons. ARG and UBS will conduct a Christmas Retail Survey again next weekend.

    Other highlights of the survey:
    • Children's clothes are very strong with 17.1% of purchases, while video games slowed down to 15.6% of purchases,
    • On-line shopping is down this year to 34.3% from 41.3% of purchases last year,
    • Gift cards are still weak with only 49.0% of consumers buying them so far this season, down from 53.0% last year.
    • Sales of winter apparel are higher this year with 37.6% of consumers buying them for themselves, compared to 23.0% in 2008.
    • Consumers are purchasing more winter apparel as gifts also - 68.6% compared to 43.1% last year.
    Conducted December 12 and 13, 2009 at ARG headquarters in Charleston, SC, the ARG/UBS Christmas Retail Survey consisted of telephone interviews with 1,000 consumers. 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, marks 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 (212) 486-1140