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Retailers, cash rich, to spend on IT: survey

A man uses an Apple iPad to record a man playing "Star Hawk" on the PS3 during E3 in Los Angeles
A man uses an Apple iPad to record a man playing "Star Hawk" on the PS3 during E3 in Los Angeles

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Retailers have cash on their balance sheets and nearly half of 100 top retail executives said they are planning to spend it on technology, a survey said on Tuesday.

Forty-seven percent of executives said they will be investing primarily in calendar year 2012 in analytical tools to improve company growth, expansion and planning.

The survey, conducted in May and June by audit, tax, and advisory firm KPMG LLP, showed that 72 percent of the retailers said they have a great deal of cash on their balance sheets.

Fifty-six percent of them said they only expect a modest improvement in the economy, revenue, and hiring in 2012.

The outlook beyond 2012 does not appear promising either: 40 percent of the survey respondents said they don't expect a full economic recovery until 2013-2014 or later. And of the 100 retail executives, 23 percent said headcount would never return to pre-recession levels.

According to Mark Larson, KPMG global retail leader, retailers and their suppliers will spend money on analytical tools to examine the enormous amount of data captured online and at the cash register.

"Analytics says let's use emerging technology to do a deep dive into that data to make it useful," he said.

The survey shows that retail leaders do not expect spending to significantly increase in the next year.

"The customer's wallet is not going to be growing, so the game has to be to grab more of that wallet," said Larson. "We need to neatly dive into their behavior to really understand what they value and what they're going to buy."

(Reporting by Eunju Lie; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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