Only 18% of women said the economy has improved in the past six months, according to the “Hard facts of shopper confidence” Pulse survey by WSL Marketing, New York. Two-thirds of all shoppers are being more cautious about their spending. This is especially true for lower income shoppers, who consider themselves less well off than middle and upper income shoppers, resulting in weak discount chain sales during the holidays. On the bright side, nearly half of all consumers feel there is hope for 2004. More info: www.wslstrategicretail.com.