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U.S. Consumer Confidence Stronger This Holiday Season: BMO Experts Provide Retail Outlook

- While no toy is dominating sales, traditional names such as Monster High and LEGO are going strong.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- (Marketwire) -- 11/28/12 -- Consumer optimism is up heading into the holiday shopping season, but is mitigated by the potential for tax increases in the new year and the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, according to BMO Capital Markets.

BMO Capital Markets experts provide their outlook for the holiday shopping season:

Sal Guatieri, Vice President and Senior Economist for BMO Capital Markets

--  American consumer spending to rise two per cent in the holiday season,
    similar to last year's rate. 
--  The housing market recovery will support demand for household
    furnishings and appliances. Consumers can expect price discounting, as
    cost pressures remain in check. 

Gerrick Johnson, Toy Analyst

--  While consumer spending on toys should improve during the holidays
    compared with earlier in the year, toy sales are still likely to fall
    two per cent versus last year. 
--  New tactics from chain stores include toy reservation systems,
    aggressive price matching and same-day delivery of online purchases.
    This helped toy sales early on; but after pulling some sales forward, it
    appears we are back to a negative year-over-year trend. 
--  Hot toy treasure hunts usually help toy sales. However, although Furby,
    LeapPad 2, Skylanders, and LEGO Friends are popular, there are no signs
    consumers will be searching high and low for that must-have toy. 

John D. Morris, Retail Apparel Analyst

--  The apparel retail sector has momentum, with cotton costs down from
    record highs last year. 
--  The likelihood of a colder winter creates opportunity in sweaters,
    outerwear and cold-weather accessories. 

Edward Williams, Entertainment & Leisure Analyst

--  Following a prolonged slump, the trend for interactive entertainment is
    improving as a result of strong software releases, and Nintendo's Wii-U,
    the first new set top console in six years. Key releases that should
    spur growth include Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Microsoft's
    Halo 4 and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed III. 
--  Mobile continues to emerge, with the popularity of iOS and Android
    devices turning the category on its head. Dedicated portable game
    devices will continue to be challenged, while iOS and Android-based
    games are positioned to show solid growth. 

About BMO Capital Markets

BMO Capital Markets is a leading, full-service North American financial services provider, with 2,200 employees operating in 29 offices worldwide, including 16 in North America and offering corporate, institutional and government clients access to a complete range of investment and corporate banking products and services. BMO Capital Markets is a member of BMO Financial Group, one of the largest diversified financial services providers in North America with total assets of $542 billion and more than 46,000 employees as at July 31, 2012.

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