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Consumer Shopping Survey Finds Consumers Still Cautious

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Some consumers remember the days when shopping was fun, but today shopping has become a drain on the family purse for three out of five Americans (60.8%) who say they only shop when they need something. That’s a finding of the Consumer Mind Reader™ survey released by America’s Research Group (ARG) and UBS, which was conducted this week.

Only 39.2% of consumers today still shop for fun, almost the reverse of the situation five years ago when over 70% of Americans shopped for fun with 30% saying they shopped only when they needed to buy something.

"Nobody has told American consumers that the recession is over although some officials have rosy predictions of growing consumer spending," says consumer trend expert C. Britt Beemer, CEO and Founder of ARG. "We’re seeing a lot of people on the edge of financial distress," he added.

Today, 7.4% of consumers describe themselves as shopping only when they get paid, a response that never showed up in 25 years of surveys, until last year, according to Beemer.

Others described themselves as only buying necessities (30.6%), buying only on sale (23.4%), buying what they want (20.0%) and buying the way they always have (18.6%)

Nearly four in five Americans (79.0%) are staying away from credit cards as much as possible.

Today, only 32.5% say debt is not a problem for them and 20.9% say their debts are a big problem.

With gas prices rising, 19.3% will cut back on spending, 19.2% will eat out less often, 10.2% will go to fewer movies and 7.1% will cut back on their summer vacation plans.  Only 42.3% say rising gas prices will not affect them.

"Most Americans are still cautious consumers," Beemer said, "They fear the future and worry how much prices will be going up at the gas pump."

The ARG/UBS Consumer Mind Reader Survey consisted of 1,000 telephone interviews conducted Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, May 1 to 4, 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.

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