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FLORIDA RETAILERS EXPECTED TO BATTLE FOR CHRISTMAS MARKET SHARE TO RAISE HOLIDAY REVENUE AND BOOST BOTTOM LINES

    MIAMI, Nov. 16 ~PRNewswire~ -- Florida retailers are cautiously optimistic that revenues and profits will increase this Christmas shopping season, but lingering concerns about consumer spending trends will lead to greater competition for market share, according to the 1992 Florida Retail Business Outlook Survey.  The survey is compiled by the TRADE retail practice offices of Deloitte & Touche, a Big Six professional services firm, and is co-sponsored by the Florida Retail Federation.
    "Store owners are traditionally optimistic as the holiday season approaches," said partner Craig Toll, director of Deloitte & Touche's Florida Retail Service Group.  "Despite their optimism, they don't expect consumers to spend more and will rely on increased customer service and better quality merchandise to capture market share and raise revenues.  They also plan to tighten corporate expenses and control inventory to increase profits."
    More than 100 Florida retailers responded to the survey.  Annual sales volume of respondents ranged from less that $1 million to more than $500 million.
    Of those surveyed, 45 percent believe customers will spend the same as last Christmas, 31 percent believe customers will spend less (vs. 59 percent last year), and 24 percent believe they will spend more. However, 60 percent of the Florida retailers surveyed also said they expected their sales to increase (vs. 49 percent last year), and 58 percent said they expected their holiday profits to increase (vs. 47 percent last year).  Twenty-four percent and 22 percent respectively believed their sales and profits will be flat this year.
    "Florida retailers expect Christmas spending to remain the same, but also predict an increase in their sales and profits, which implies greater competition for the consumer dollar," Toll said.  "Florida retailers also are cautious about the economic outlook for 1993.  While 42 percent of the respondents believe the outlook for the U.S. economy will improve and only 16 percent believe it will worsen, more than 50 percent believe the inflation rate will be higher by the 1993 holiday season."
    Thirty percent of the survey respondents said that customer service is a key factor in bringing customers into their stores.  Nineteen percent believe that a convenient location also is their distinguishing factor and 15 percent said that better quality merchandise will boost their performance.  Price promotions and "everyday low prices" were only mentioned by nine and seven percent respectively as a differentiating factor.
    "Traditional methods of expense and inventory control are the weapons retailers will employ to boost bottom lines in this highly competitive shopping season," Toll said.  "Retailers also are looking at a more exclusive assortment of merchandise that will result in higher gross margins to increase profits."
    Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said they plan to tighten corporate expenses this year.  Fifty-two percent said they will tighten control over inventory levels.  Thirty-two percent of the retailers who responded plan to offer a more exclusive selection of merchandise to hike profit margins.
    "The highly competitive market could result in an all-out marketing assault on the consumer," Toll said.  "A large majority of the survey respondents expect to increase, or at least maintain their promotions and advertising."
    Seventy percent said they will maintain or increase in-store promotions.  Point-of-purchase promotions (67 percent) and co-op advertising (61 percent) will be maintained or increased, according to Florida retailers surveyed.
    Use of brand names also will play an important role in attracting customers.  Thirty-one percent of the retailers plan to increase private brand label usage, 29 percent will increase use of national brands, and 23 percent said they will increase the use of other private labels.
    "The battle lines have been drawn and it appears that Florida retailers are expecting a hard-fought campaign," Toll said.  "Consumers are still feeling the effects of the recession and retailers indicate in the survey they intend to fight tooth-and-nail for the business."
    Toll also said retailers want the Clinton administration to concentrate on increasing consumer confidence, maintaining low interest rates and controlling the inflation rate to spur retail sales over the next 18 months.
    "Looking ahead to 1993, Florida retailers are most concerned about local economic conditions, declining consumer confidence, industry layoffs and unemployment as factors to contend with in 1993," Toll said.
    The Florida Retail Business Outlook Survey is conducted annually by Deloitte & Touche.  It's part of a national survey of thousands of retailers conducted each year by the Big Six professional services firm.
    Copies of the complete survey are available upon request.  For further information, contact Craig Toll (Fort Lauderdale~Miami~Palm Beaches) at 305-728-3806.
    -0-             11~16~92
    CONTACT:  Barbara A. Peterson, marketing manager of Deloitte & Touche, 305-372-3106 CO:  DELOITTE & TOUCHE IN:  REA SU:  ECO ST:  FL


-- FL014 -- X379 11~16~92
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Date:Nov 16, 1992
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