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    --Retail Guru Says Last Weekend was the Biggest Shopping Day All Year

    American consumers were out in force over the second full weekend of the holiday shopping season and with less than 10 days left before Christmas, more than 65% say they have completed their shopping. “Two-thirds of consumers have told us they are done shopping,” says Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group. “This is a strong performance, but it’s not near the 75-80% levels expected this close to Christmas.” The Charleston-based consumer behavior research and marketing firm has been tracking consumer holiday spending every weekend since late October. ARG’s data is projecting a decline in holiday sales of 1.5 to 2% over last year.

    Highlights of consumer shopping patterns over the past weekend include:
    • 39.1% of shoppers have finished their shopping (only 23.2% had finished by this time in 1999), indicating consumers desire to make family and home a priority over shopping
    • Four out of five shoppers have spent more of their dollars at the major discount stores such as Wal-Mat, K-Mart and Target—an all-time high
    • More than half of shoppers feel safe doing business at malls, yet 33% say they don’t feel safe
    • Retailers selling products with patriotic symbols have done very well. For the first time in 22 years, consumers have chosen those retailers first who have made contributions to September 11th charities to help victims affected by the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
    • While the optimistic spirit Americans enjoyed before September 11th plunged, three out of four shoppers now say they are as excited about this Christmas as they have been in previous years
    • Convenience, ease and saving of time, have increased the demand for catalog shopping with a better-than-expected 22% of shoppers saying they have made their purchases by mail

    “This is definitely a soft Christmas season for retailers,” reflects Beemer. “People have other priorities, such as their families. Deep discounts and retailers who support the victims of September 11th have first priority on the American consumer.” Looking ahead to January, Beemer predicts, “After-Christmas sales will be huge—one of the most discounted shopping periods of the last 20 years.”
    Britt Beemer is available for interview.Selected questions from the survey are available upon resquest.

    America’s Research Group, Ltd. (ARG), is a full service consumer behavior survey research company with more than 22 years experience. ARG has interviewed more than 4 million consumers. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative research, the firm works with clients to develop practical and successful marketing strategies for pace-setting companies in the fields of home furnishings, appliance and electronics retailing, banking and finance, automobile dealers, department stores, specialty and mass merchants. Clients include Sealy Mattress, Kohl’s Department Stores, IKEA, Barnes & Noble, AT&T; Wireless, Eckerd Drugs, Broyhill Furniture, Thomasville Furniture, American Eagle Outfitters and many others.

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