Stores Will Hear a Pin Drop This Holiday Season
Looks like there's going to be a lot of space under our Christmas trees this year. And stockings will hang like sad, skinny socks from our fireplace mantels. At least that's what economists have said, along with a survey of 8,000 Americans.
Consumers will be shelling out 2.2 percent more on holiday gifts this year than last, which means we'll be spending a mere $470.4 billion on gifts, according to a recent forecast by the National Retail Federation. Usually our holiday spending goes up 4.4 percent, making this year one of the slowest growth holiday seasons since 2002.
A consumer survey by BIGresearch in early September, before the financial crisis hit, found that 52 percent of people said they would be spending less this year and 42 percent said they would be spending the same. And who are the six percent of you that said you would be spending more? Maybe we could become friends or something.
The prediction isn't surprising. My 4-year-old could have called this one. Here's the problem: We never know how much we're going to be shelling out for gas each week, some of us have foreclosed on our homes, the craziness on Wall Street has turned us into nervous Nellies about our investments and who knows who'll end up in the White House. It's enough to make a shopping blogger cut up her credit cards and go on another fiscal fast. (My husband is celebrating right now.)
They say even luxury retailers will be offering discounts. But home furnishing stores will suffer the hardest and we may not be buying as many gift cards, which was a huge holiday item last year. But we'll still show some love for electronics, which may have some good deals.
Now, don't panic. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving that kicks off the holiday shopping season) and Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving that kicks off the online holiday shopping season) have not been cancelled. In fact, shoppers might feel a little better about spending money by then because we'll know who the next president will be.
So here's what I think: Retailers will need to get a little creative with their sales this year, online stores will need to offer free shipping no matter how much we spend at their site, kids will need to realize that one or two gifts from Santa is more than enough, pot luck dinners need to become fashionable again and we need to re-think what the holidays are all about.
How are you going to handle the holidays this year in terms of gifts and food? Will your spending go down, up or stay the same as last year? Have any ideas for gifting friends and family without depleting your savings? Post a comment below.
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