Survey: Consumers are Bargain-Driven

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Charleston, S.C. Retailers will face a major challenge as a survey released Wednesday by America’s Research Group/UBS found that consumers are reluctant to buy anything more than the essentials, saying that they are feeling pressured by debt and credit card bills.

The first Consumer Mind Reader Survey revealed that more shoppers are buying only on-sale items and no one is buying new items not on sale.

“Retailers are experiencing their most challenging time in three decades,” said C. Britt Beemer, CEO and founder of ARG.  “Our survey confirmed that consumers are in deep hibernation and there is no sign that they will wake up this spring or that the retail outlook will pick up any time soon.”

A third (33.2%) of American consumers today, compared to 23.6% last year, said they are pressured by debt and credit card bills.  Almost 29% said they are buying only the essentials and on-sale items.

This compares with 17.9% who were buying only essentials last year. Those buying new items not on sale are almost nil (4.8%) in 2009 from 10.8% last year.

Internet shopping is also down, as 27.4% of consumers said they have bought something on the Internet, compared to 30.5% in 2008.

In general, discount stores and membership warehouse clubs are seeing more traffic: Discount-store traffic is predicted to be up to 99.3% in 2009 from 90.1% in 2008; membership warehouse clubs -- traffic up to 26.5% in 2009, from 23.0% in 2008; major department store -- traffic down to 15.3% in 2009 from 27.5% in 2008; jewelry store -- traffic down to 1.2% in 2009 from 15.4% in 2008; and mall apparel store -- traffic down to 17.2% in 2009 from 22.0% in 2008.