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Shop 'Til GNP Doesn't Drop

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If consumers spend freely enough this holiday season to ward off a serious recession, we ought to erect a statue of the Hero Shopper to commemorate their action. So far, the auguries are mildly gloomy. (All bets are off, of course, if further terrorism chases people out of the malls.) As indicated in the chart below, a survey conducted for Adweek by Alden & Associates Marketing Research of Hermosa Beach, Calif., found austerity much more common than lavishness in consumers' spending intentions. Only among 18-24-year-olds did more than one-third (36.7 percent) say they plan to spend more this year than they did last. Unfortunately, those brave souls tend to have less money than the 35-49-year-olds, among whom just 6.6 percent plan to spend more. Men are much more likely than women to say they'll spend more this year (16.3 percent vs. 11.9 percent). Conversely, women are more likely than men to say they expect to be spending less (33.7 percent vs. 22 percent). Single people are more likely than marrieds (22.2 percent vs. 6.3 percent) to enlist in the spend-more ranks. Single men are the leading candidates for Hero Shopper immortality: 28.1 percent answered "more," while 19.9 percent said "less."