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HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES LIKELY TO IMPROVE AGAIN IN NEW YORK METRO AREA ACCORDING TO ANNUAL ARTHUR ANDERSON SURVEY

 NEW YORK, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The vast majority of New York-area holiday shoppers -- 77 percent -- plan to spend at least as much money as last year, according to a survey of more that 1,700 metropolitan area consumers by Arthur Andersen. The figure compares to 66 percent who responded in similar fashion a year ago, when holiday spending exceeded all expectations to reach its highest level since 1988.
 "This is all very encouraging from the standpoint of retailers since consumers tend to understate their actual spending plans," said Jay Scansaroli, partner-in-charge of Arthur Andersen's retail practice.
 Scansaroli pointed out that 12 percent of those polled said they would actually increase holiday spending this year, versus only 7 percent last year, while only 23 percent planned to reduce holiday spending, as opposed to 31 percent a year ago. "We see a slow but steady rise in confidence on the part of the consumer," Scansaroli said.
 Surprisingly, 62 percent of consumers said they planned to do their primary shopping at department stores this year, up sharply from only 38 percent in last year's survey. "The popularity of department stores is a sign of their ability to identify and respond to their customers' needs by developing successful merchandising strategies," Scansaroli pointed out.
 Nonetheless, 38 percent of consumers surveyed cited price as the most important factor in deciding where to shop. This price consciousness was also reflected by the fact that only 10 percent planned to buy a single gift costing $500 or more. But a full 20 percent cited quality as their prime concern this holiday season while 17 percent said selection was most important to them. Only 15 percent said convenience was the primary factor in deciding where to shop.
 Apparel manufacturers and retailers are likely to enjoy the holiday season, judging by the survey results, as 56 percent of those polled said clothing was the gift they were most likely to buy, compared to 16 percent who said toys topped their shopping list.
 In another surprise, 85 percent of those surveyed said President Clinton's Economic and Health Care plans will have no effect on their shopping patterns this year.
 The survey findings come from Arthur Andersen's annual Holiday Confidence Report, a random telephone survey of consumers in the five New York City boroughs and surrounding counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
 Arthur Andersen is a leading worldwide provider of audit, tax and advisory services. Its more than 36,000 personnel provide these services through 320 offices in 70 countries. Arthur Andersen is a business unit of Arthur Andersen Worldwide Organization, whose coordinating entity is Arthur Anderson & Co, SC.
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 /CONTACT: Jenna Focarino of Trimedia/NYCOM, 212-888-6115/


CO: Arthur Andersen ST: New York IN: REA SU: ECO

MP-PS -- NY001 -- 7151 11/23/93 09:15 EST
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Date:Nov 23, 1993
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