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    As the economic recession drags on for most Americans, dollar stores have emerged as a potent retail competitor. The latest America’s Research Group/UBS Consumer Mind Reader survey found that dollar stores were the third most popular retail category among shoppers, trailing only discount stores and drug stores in overall percentage of customers.

    The fact that dollar stores would outpace other traditional retail categories proves that consumers are cautious in their shopping habits, only buying essentials that they absolutely have to have and always in search of the best deals to stretch their shrinking budgets.

    Some of the popularity could also result from expanding product lines now stocked by major dollar stores. Some chains have added grocery items, promising and delivering on freshness in dairy products and frozen foods at attractive below-grocery-store prices. Many also carry major name brand products, further driving home the point in the minds of consumers that they need not pay more for the same quality.

    The pent up demand for needed products also produced increases in department store, home improvement and membership warehouse club traffic and sales. All benefitted from the consumer mindset to replace worn out essentials at the very best price.

    At the same time, retailers of non-essential products suffered the loss. Retailers of bed and bath products, home accessories, toys and jewelry all saw fewer shoppers and experienced decreased sales in comparison with 2009 levels.

    Now that the holiday shopping season is upon us, retailers would be wise to be very conscious of the current mood among their customers. They would be well advised to have their shelves stocked with attractive merchandise, employ enough store personnel to accommodate shoppers, and offer deep discounts throughout the season. The old marketing methods won’t work this year. Consumers are clearly focused on only buying those items that they absolutely must have to get through the holidays, and to buy them at the lowest possible cost.

    The survey, which tracks the shopping habits of 1,000 American consumers for the previous month, was conducted November 5-7, 2010. The error factor is +/- 3.8 percent.

    Big Winners
    • Dollar Stores
    • Membership Warehouse Clubs
    • Discount Stores
    • Home Improvement Stores
    Big Losers
    • Toy Stores
    • Bed and Bath Stores
    • Jewelry Stores
    • Home Accessories Stores
    Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group, is the country’s leading authority on retail buying habits of consumers. ARG tracks consumer buying habits more than any other survey research firm in the nation. The company conducts customized surveys for retail and manufacturing clients across the United States, designed to provide clients valuable marketing recommendations to grow their businesses. Beemer is author of two best-selling business books, Predatory Marketing and It Takes a Prophet to Make a Profit. His third business book, entitled The Customer Rules, is available at bookstores nationwide.

    More detailed information is available on the America’s Research Group website at www.americasresearchgroup.com. 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.