U.S. shoppers holding off for last-minute deals-survey

lunes 17 de diciembre de 2007 03:31 CET

By Karen Jacobs

ATLANTA Dec 16 (Reuters) - Many U.S. shoppers held off shopping for gifts this weekend as winter storms hit parts of the nation and consumers planned to seek last-minute deals in the final days leading up to Christmas, according to a national survey released on Sunday.

The weak sales led the head of consumer marketing firm America's Research Group to lower his holiday sales-growth forecast.

"I'm now convinced that retailers do not understand the mindset of today's consumer," said Britt Beemer, founder and chairman of the firm. "Retailers are holding back on giving the big discounts that consumers want this year."

Beemer cut his outlook for retail same-store sales growth in November and December to 1.8 percent from 2 percent previously. "Weaker sales due to retailers holding back on big discounts has made me lower my forecast," he said.

Just 41.6 percent of consumers surveyed shopped this past weekend for Christmas gifts, America's Research Group found. Beemer said that figure marked the lowest weekend shopping levels in more than six years.

A SpendingPulse survey also released on Sunday showed a similar slowdown in weekend shopping. [ID:nN16371466]

Additionally, more people than ever are planning to finish their Christmas shopping at the last minute, hoping to find money-saving deals, the America's Research survey found.

Retailers are waiting to see if consumer spending holds up this holiday season, as the U.S. housing meltdown, rising gasoline and food prices and concerns that the American economy could be headed toward recession weigh on shoppers' psyches.   Continuación...