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    Charleston, SC, March18, 2010.... Consumers opened up their pocket books in February with more shoppers going to more stores, according to the findings of the latest Consumer Mind Reader(tm) survey released today by America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS. A strong Presidents' Day weekend was largely responsible with 31.0% of consumers shopping this year compared to 24.3% a year ago.

    Of those who shopped on Presidents' Day weekend, 34.5% said they spent more this year while only 24.2% said they spent less. A year ago, 84.0% of shoppers said they were driven by deep sales discounts. That number has dropped to 67.5% in 2010.

    "While consumers don't feel the economy is much better than in early January, they are now shopping more," says consumer trend expert C. Britt Beemer, CEO and Founder of ARG. "At the same time, consumers are still working on paying off debts saying that gas prices and home heating bills are making them spend less," he added.

    A year ago, 25.2% had delayed a purchase of $500 or more in February, while 22.0% have done so this February. "Although 22.0% is still a big number, it is an improvement from last year's huge 25.2% level," Beemer says.

    The Consumer Mind Reader(tm) survey revealed that in two months' time, Americans have clearly shifted their attitudes in how they view themselves as shoppers. Almost a third (29.9%) say they are cutting back spending due to debt.
    • Due to bills and debt, have cut back on spending (29.9% of consumers in March; 23.1% in January),
    • Want to buy when see items on sale at 40% to 50% off (21.1% in March; 24.9% in January),
    • If I like what I see, I buy it (20.4% in March; 21.1% in January),
    • I don't see much in the stores I want to buy (17.2% in March; 12.0% in January),
    • Gas prices and home heating bills are making me spend less (11.4% in March; 18.9% in January).

    "Shoppers are beginning to come out of hibernation," says Beemer, "but cautiously and with memories of the deep freeze of last winter."

    The ARG/UBS Consumer Mind Reader Survey consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews conducted Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 12, 13 and 14, 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 (212) 486-1140