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    Charleston, Jan. 18, 2009.... Consumers spending in January promises to be flat or up only slightly as a result of several factors that raise concern about economic recovery anytime soon, according to the findings of the latest Consumer Mind Reader(tm) survey released today by America's Research Group (ARG) and UBS.

    "Shoppers are going into January with less money, having already spent their gift cards in late December, and having to pay off the flat panel TV sets they bought at pre-Christmas sales," says consumer trend expert C. Britt Beemer, CEO and Founder of ARG. Based on these numbers and other factors, Beemer's prediction for January retail sales is "flat" or up only .5%.

    "The latest survey findings just confirm my prediction that consumers will hold off spending again until Presidents' Day Weekend in mid-February," Beemer added.

    The gift card spending rate in December was much higher than usual with 71.1% of consumers using them right after Christmas, compared to 54.2% last year and 41.3% in 2007.

    In general, there were more shoppers between Christmas and the New Year this year with 44.6% of consumers saying they shopped in the period, compared to 37.8% in 2008 and 36.0% in 2007. These consumers were still focused on getting good deals with 74.09% saying they only bought sales items, essentially the same number as in 2008 (74.6%).

    The survey found other reasons that consumers are holding back their spending as well:
    • 18.9% of Americans feel pressured by gas and home heating bills, compared with 8.2% last year,
    • 12.0% of shoppers see little in the stores they want to buy, a significant increase from last year (9.1%),
    • 24.9% of consumers are buying only when items are marked down by 40% to 50%, just slightly fewer then the bargain hunters last year (28.8%).

    The ARG/UBS Consumer Mind Reader Survey consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews conducted Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, January 8 - 11, 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