Consumers continue to be very bargain-driven and are holding back on spending, according to the latest survey from Charleston-based America's Research Group.

The survey found 74.3 percent of shoppers say they watch for more sale ads by their favorite stores. That is up from 72.4 percent in a survey conducted in May and 67.5 percent in March. It also found that over half of consumers (52.2 percent) said they only shop when there is a really big deal being advertised. This is up from May (45.5 percent) and March (48.9 percent).

And when asked to describe themselves, 27.1 percent of consumers said that becuase of bills and debt, they have cut back on spending, up from 24.8 percent in May.

"Consumers are still very reluctant to revert to old buying habits or to shop with any enthusiasm," said consumer trend expert C. Britt Beemer, founder and CEO of America's Research Group.

Other consumer-spending trends of the past months are holding with 15.9 percent not seeing much in the stores they want to buy (up just slightly from 15.5 percent in May) and 24.7 percent wanting to buy only when they see items on sale at 40 percent to 50 percent off (similar to 24.4 percent in May).

Also, 17 percent of consumers have postponed or delayed a purchase of $500 or more in the past month. In July 2009 when the economy was very bad, 18.8 percent had delayed a $500 purchase, only slightly higher than the figure this July.

Even though consumers put 60 percent or more of their income tax refunds on bills and debt, 33.4 percent say their family's current debt level is not a problem. That number is up slightly from 32 percent in March, a figure that should have dropped because of the billions of dollars paid on bills and debts.

"I am very surprised that consumers view their debt levels in the same way after putting so much money from the tax refunds to paying bills and debts," Beemer said. "As few consumers are seeing any economic recovery locally, 37.1 percent are reluctant to spend their hard-earned dollars," he added.

Wedding planner

Brides- and grooms-to-be can visit Belk stores Thursday for an engagement party event that offers couples an evening of food, festive beverages, entertainment and fabulous prizes.

The three-hour event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. in the store's gift registry department.

Certified bridal consultants will be on hand to give advice and help couples determine what items they need for their new home. Consultants will help guests create a personal registry for each bride-to-be's gift selection, including fine and casual china, silverware, crystal, cookware, kitchen essentials, bedding and bath merchandise and more.

Guests will receive a wedding registry planner, and those who open a new gift registry or add to an existing one will receive a $25 savings card and be entered into a drawing for the following prizes: two travel vouchers for airline tickets or a cruise ($1,200 value), $1,000 in cash, one of five $1,000 Belk Gift Cards, three days and two nights at the Biltmore Inn in Asheville, N.C., ($2,500 value) and a Carolee jewelry grand prize of $2,000.

The runner-up will get $500. Check your store for more details.

Food line

Bojangles' is coming to Mount Pleasant. Construction began on the restaurant Aug. 6, and it is scheduled to open mid-October at 1664 U.S. Highway 17. The fast-food chicken and breakfast restaurant will be owned and operated by Bojangles' franchisee K-BO Inc.

K-BO owner and operator Kevin Archer has three Bojangles' restaurants in the Charleston area, including those on Folly Road in Goose Creek and on Johns Island. The Mount Pleasant store will be the franchisee's fourth location. There are nine Bojangles' in the Charleston metro area.

New Rx

Walgreen's drugstore has submitted site plans to the city of Charleston for a new pharmacy on Daniel Island The 14,500-square-foot store would be on Riverlanding Drive.

In the know? Do you know of a business that is opening, closing or expanding? Reach Warren Wise at 937-5524 or