Following a downturn in sales, the nation's retailers are expecting a $42.9 billion boost in the months ahead as shoppers cash in tax rebates from the federal economic stimulus package, a new survey shows.

The $152 billion stimulus package, which President Bush signed into law this week and includes up to $1,200 in tax rebates for consumers, will prompt more shoppers to head back into stores, according to a National Retail Federation and BIGresearch poll of nearly 8,000 consumers. About 40 percent of respondents said they planned to spend their rebate checks, while others said they would either pay down debts or add to their savings.

"Tax rebate checks should have the desired effect of both bolstering the economy in the short-term and putting consumers in a better position to spend for the future," Tracy Mullin, president of the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. "This stimulus package is a crucial component to economic recovery and will provide much-needed relief to American shoppers." Mullin added.