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Study Gauges Shopper Confidence - Long Term Impact On Shopping Life

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by Wendy Liebmann and Candace Corlett, principals The experts in How America Shops The financial gloom brought on by the dot.com bubble burst and 9/11 has yet to dissipate, and has translated into long term caution toward spending. There is a core group of consumers who feel better about the economy and their financial situation, but the dilemma for retailing is that the confident group skews more toward men than women. The PULSE (December 15, 2004) survey of 1,000 shoppers nationwide, reports: -25 percent of all consumers have seen improvement in their household's financial situation, virtually unchanged the past two years. -43 percent consistently remain optimistic that their financial situation will improve next year. -Job security is significantly less of an issue now than it was a year ago. -Only 18 percent of women think the economy has improved vs 38 percent of men -36 percent of women feel that their financial situation will improve next year half the men believe my household's financial situation will improve over the next year. -60 percent of total consumers are still cautious about spending, but this is down from 66 percent a year ago -Women are still more cautious than men, 65 percent vs. 56 percent -"Only" 31 percent are postponing major purchases, a big improvement from one and two years ago. -28 percent are driving less, up significantly vs. a year ago, especially drivers over 55. -Overall, middle and upper income shoppers are feeling and reacting the same to the economy and the new shopping life. -Lower income shoppers, however, (under $50k) are significantly less secure financially. -Only 12 percent feel their financial situation has improved. -22 percent have experienced job loss in their household this year. -65 percent are watching their spending. WHAT IT MEANS FOR BUSINESS The "cautious pause" among shoppers is entering its third year and appears to be an ingrained habit. With 60 percent of shoppers being careful about their spending, pausing to ask if this is a good use of my money, retail growth will struggle in the low digits. Women in particular have become tighter with their spending. This presents retailers with the challenge to be merchandisers, to romance the merchandise, WOW the shopper and entice them to throw caution to the wind. Stacking 'em high doesn't -mean they will fly. Shoppers are not that desperate to buy. Get the full report, with charts, at: http://www.visibilitypr.com/pdfs/pulse_12_15_04.pdf

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