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    Dismal retail sales for June should not come as a surprise to anyone. The die was cast and the month's fate sealed before the calendar ever left May. In past years when the Memorial Day weekend spilled over into June, as much as 20 percent of the month's total sales revenue could be attributed to holiday shopping. But this year, with the holiday falling on May 25th, the summer kickoff sales were all absorbed in May.

    America's Research Group interviewed 1,001 consumers across the country about their shopping habits for the previous month for our Consumer Mind Reader ™. The results showed retail sales in the doldrums, mirroring the rest of the economy. Higher priced stores selling better quality merchandise suffered most, as consumers desperately seek ways to stretch their income. Major department stores, for instance, lost nearly half its customer base as compared with the number of shoppers in June, 2008. Of the remaining customers who did frequent major department stores, their spending levels were also slashed nearly in half from last year's totals.

    Of the 28 retail categories we survey in the Consumer Mind Reader, only a few showed any modest growth over last year's totals. There were no huge beneficiaries of consumer spending in the retail landscape. The categories which improved over last year were those which were smaller chain stores or locally-owned retailers offering a variety of less expensive merchandise convenient to where shoppers live and work.

    To the dismay of many retailers, sales of used merchandise have gained steam in these belt-tightening times. Garage sales and flea markets are more crowded these days than any time since 2005, and shoppers are spending at higher levels.

    This year is sure to be remembered as the summer of discontent for the American economy in general and the retail sector in particular. Consumers have yet to buy into any notions of economic recovery and remain afraid that their incomes may be sliced even further. The economic boost from bailouts and government stimulus funds has yet to be felt in retail.

    Major Department Stores
    Hardware 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, was released in October and is available at bookstores nationwide. More detailed information is available on the America's Research Group website at www.americasresearchgroup.com