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    Affluent Consumers Comprise Traffic Boost at Club Stores: Survey

    Even the well-off are responding to price-sensitive strategies and messages, noted data provider MRI.

    In the current faltering economy, traffic at club stores targeting the budget-conscious shopper has grown faster than the U.S. population, with affluent consumers driving the uptick, according to information gathered by Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI), a provider of magazine audience and multimedia research data.

    The number of people who shopped at club stores such as Costco, B.J.'s, and Sam's Club rose 3.6 percent from September 2006 to April 2008, while the total adult population grew just over 1 percent in the same time period, according to the results of MRI's Survey of the American Consumer. Further, the number of club store shoppers with household incomes of $75,000 annually increased nearly 12 percent in the same time period.

    Almost four in 10 U.S. adults, or 39 percent, said they shopped at club stores in the past six months.

    The survey found not only that upscale consumers are spurring club store traffic growth, but also that club store shoppers are quite upscale overall. For example, consumers who shopped in a club store in the past six months are 38 percent more likely than the average adult to have household incomes of $75,000 or higher, they're 26 percent more likely to have graduated college, and they're 32 percent more likely to have management, business, or financial jobs.

    Parenthood also influences whether consumers shop in club stores, as moms and dads are 9 percent more likely than the general population to have shopped in this retail channel in the past six months.

    New York-based MRI, part of Nuremburg, Germany-based GfK group, interviews about 26,000 U.S. adults in their homes each year, asking about their use of media, their product consumption, and their lifestyles and attitudes. These in-home interviews represent the biggest survey of its kind.

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