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Research Reveals American Consumers May Be Tired of Shopping

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In a significant departure from consumer shopping behavior over the past four years, savvy taxpayers are taking 40% to 50% of refund checks to pay down debt, pay off credit cards, and pay off purchases they made last fall under some 0% interest offers, according to the findings of a new survey conduced by America’s Research Group (ARG). In the four previous years, consumers used only 25% to 33% of their tax refunds to pay down debt. “Consumers may be on the verge of upsetting the common notion that ‘Americans shop till they drop’, said C. Britt Beemer, founder and CEO of ARG. In past years, up to 40% of big-ticket item sales in March, April and May could be tied to income tax refunds, according to ARG data. This year, survey results found that shoppers are acting differently. “Maybe it’s higher interest rates, nothing or little to buy, lack of customer service in retail stores, or maybe just a pause in their buying frenzy,” Beemer conjectured. Even if consumers slow their shopping desires by as little as 10% to 15%, the U.S. economy would suffer, according to Beemer, with job growth, the one consistent positive indicator of the last five years, feeling the greatest negative impact. The next three months will likely reveal how consumer spending will be for the rest of the year, Beemer predicts. “Memorial Day shopping could be the bellwether for the whole economy this year,” he said, “If it underperforms, economists better rethink their predictions for 2006.” The ARG survey of 2,000 consumers nationwide was conducted in early April. America’s Research Group is the consumer research-focused business development firm that provides clients the insight, strategy and tactics to increase market share. America’s Research Group’s expertise in consumer behavior has made it a key resource and advisor to leading brands and top retailers in the nation for 25 years.

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