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ARG Study Finds US Consumers Face Higher Debit and Unexpected Expenses

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More and more consumers, feeling the pinch of the new higher minimum payments on credit cards, are driven to seek bigger and bigger bargains when they shop, according to the latest Consumers’ Mind Reader™ survey conducted by America’s Research Group (ARG). In the past two months, from 43.0% to 53.4% of Americans have noticed a larger required minimum monthly payment. “Retail stores are feeling the pinch of the bargain-minded consumer in lower earnings,” says C. Britt Beemer, founder and CEO of ARG. “This is not a good omen for the upcoming holiday sales period,” he added. The extent of consumer distress is evident in the fact that the number of families feeling pressure from credit card bills has risen nearly 50% from 21.9% to 29.1% in the period early July to early September. In addition, the dramatic increase in unexpected bills has more than doubled since early March. At that time, only 15.7% of consumers saw unexpected bills that put them behind, compared to 32.9 % this September. Even those with good intentions may be overwhelmed when hit with unexpected bills, according to Beemer. Since early May, the consumers’ discomfort levels with debt from credit cards and home mortgages have risen from 29.7% to 37.1%. Only 27.4% of consumers in September this year said they were reducing driving levels to stay closer to home. That number is a sharp drop from the 80% who reduced driving levels after September 11, 2001. The Consumer Mind Reader™ is a survey of 1,000 adults conducted by ARG every two months. The current survey, conducted from September 8 to September 11, 2006, has an error factor of 4.3 %. America’s Research Group is the consumer behavior marketing 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 27 years.

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