Arnold F. Watts, president of the Washington-based firm of Pat Arnolde's Talls, has been selected to receive the National Retail Merchant's Association independent "retailer of the year" award next January.

Watts, whose first store was opened in 1954, is the third area retailer so honored by the 50,000 member national trade group Charles Dulcan of the Hecht Co. and Phillip M. Talbott of Woodward & Lothtrop were named retailers of the year for 1947 and 1957, respectively.

NRMA president James R. Williams said the honor reflects the Washington retailer's work in the trade group.

As chairman of the NRMA shopping center leasing committee, Watts directed publication earlier this year of a book. "Retailer's Guide to Shopping Center Leasing." The publication provides guidelines for retailers on store locations and financing, including legal and economy consideration.

A native of Richmond, Watts operates a chain of seven stores in the District, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. He is on the NRMA board of director and is active on various community activities including the Red Cross scouting and programs for blind and retarded persons.

The award will be given to Watts at the NRMA convention in New York on Jan. 10