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  • New Survey Finds No Bright Spot for Retailers: Many Americans Feel Insecure in Their Jobs, Over 70% Feel Pressure from Debts

    Charleston, SC, November 20, 2008… Many Americans (22.8%) have already seen lay-offs at their workplace and 31.8% expect lay-offs in the future leaving only 63.9% feeling truly secure in their jobs, according to the America’s Research Group/UBS 2008 Christmas Survey released today. Pressures from debts have skyrocketed at the same time with over half of American consumers (52.0%) feeling some pressure from debts and 21.8% feeling a lot of pressure.

    Of those feeling pressure from debt, 57.9% will spend less this Christmas due to their credit concerns. "Consumers have snapped shut their wallets this year and it's difficult to find a bright spot for the Christmas shopping season," said C. Britt Beemer, Chairman of ARG.

    Gift cards glittered brightly last year, but this year consumers are wary because they fear that stores could go into bankruptcy and not honor the cards. Of those consumers who normally give gift cards but won’t this year, 64.4% will give money instead. Only 35.6% said they would give gifts instead, dashing retailers’ expectations that fewer gift cards could boost gift sales. Of those consumers who will give fewer gift cards, over a third (36.4%) say that there is a chance they could give nothing at all.

    Big bargains may lure some consumers out to shop, however, according to Beemer. This year, almost ninety percent (89.2%) of consumers say they are either some (55.6%) or very much (33.6%) more driven by sales and discounts. When asked if they were more sales driven than they were three to five years ago, a whopping 84.0% said "yes."

    The top-rated sales promotions are:
    • 50% off (41.9% of consumers),
    • Take an additional 20% off (28.6% of consumers),
    • Save 40% - 60% (27.0% of consumers),
    • Buy one, get one free (24.0% of consumers)
    Ladies specialty stores are at risk, according to Beemer. Of women, 36.3% do not shop at ladies apparel specialty stores at all. Of those who do, 26.2% will spend less this Christmas season at those stores.

    The America's Research Group/UBS 2008 Christmas Survey consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews of adults 20 to 59 years of age conducted Thursday and Friday, November 13 and 14, 2008 at ARG headquarters in Charleston, SC. The error factor is plus or minus 3.8%.

    Beemer has correctly predicted Christmas retail sales in 16 of the last 17 years. UBS has teamed with America’s Research Group (ARG) for six surveys this Christmas season, the next scheduled over Black Friday weekend.

    Thanks to his expertise in consumer behavior since founding America’s Research Group in 1979, Beemer is a key resource and advisor to leading brands and top retailers in the nation. His new book, The Customer Rules, is 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