NEW YORK — They might clog your mailbox or clutter your newspaper, but mass merchants will keep on using ad circulars.

They have been rated the top attention getters of all types of consumer advertising, according to a study by the International Mass Retail Association and the Gallup Organization.

The second annual survey, which analyzed spending habits and reaction to ads, was conducted last month via telephone among 1,010 respondents. Among the findings:

Consumer visits to discount department stores rose 4.2 times per month on average this year, versus 3.4 times in 1993.

Shoppers labeled “heavy spenders,” who report average purchases of $194 a month at a mass merchant, visit these stores 6.7 times a month.

The total sample (light and heavy spenders), averaged $99 a month in purchases at discounters, compared to $86 in 1993.

When asked if they had read, seen or heard any ads for a discounter or category killer (like Home Depot or Toys ‘R’ Us), 83 percent of respondents recalled the circulars, 75 percent remembered ads on TV, 52 percent recalled seeing ads in the body of the newspaper, 45 percent recalled radio ads, 35 percent remembered magazine ads and 24 percent recalled billboards.

Consumer recollections of circulars were up 2 percent compared with 1993, while all other media registered declines of 1 to 5 percent.

Half of all respondents said they used ad circulars to make shopping lists or planned trips; a third take the circulars with them when they go shopping.

Eighty percent of the respondents recalled ad circular advertising for mass retail stores within the past 30 days.

Eighty-one percent said they visited the store within a week of seeing a circular.

Twenty-five percent use the circulars on a weekly basis to make buying decisions, up from 18 percent in 1993; 34 percent said they used the circulars once a month or more, against 44 percent in 1993.

Information rated most important to have in the ads includes price, discussion of money-back guarantee, description and photo of the product and store address. Also, 83 percent of respondents said if a sale price is shown, the regular price should also be listed.

Of least importance were ethnicity of models in the circulars and method of delivery (through local newspaper, U.S. mail or home delivery).

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