‘Tis Another Shopping Season

SANTAHere we are again.  We have had “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday” and now “Cyber Monday” as retailers urge us to do our Christmas shopping for the season.  Ready or not, it is here.  Last year Americans spent over $1 Trillion in retail purchases.

I saw a statistic this weekend that says 30% of consumers will use their credit cards for Christmas shopping.  I’m really surprised that it is not higher than that.  Just about when you pay off Christmas, it is time to charge those nasty credit cards up again.   The average U.S. household will spend about $1,536 on holiday shopping.

Where does it stop?

I’m no Scrooge here.  I love buying presents for people and I also love receiving too but I’m in the stage of life that I don’t need a gift to be valued or to value someone else.  Sometimes I wish we would do this gift thing a little differently.  I think we’ve all fallen for that “oh we aren’t doing gifts this year” thing.  I remember once a former family member had some kind of religious moment and announced that they weren’t doing Christmas but, instead, would do “just because” gifts throughout the year.  It sounded like a good idea but those “just because” times never came.

Growing up, we didn’t have much so I appreciated any gift I received.  I was never showered with gifts but I didn’t ever do without either.  I remember when the JCPenney or Sears Catalog arrived I would go through it page by page and try to find something I wanted that my parents could afford.  I would dog-ear those pages and hope that Mom could talk Dad into one of the more expensive gifts.  I might get it and I might not but I never showed my disappointment.

As I grew older I understood what the holiday stress is all about.  I got sucked into the Christmas gift arms race.  Fortunately over recent years I have scaled back and try to keep the shopping under control.

If you’re stressed about shopping, here are some good tips that can help:

  1. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute – 62% of Americans buy their gifts the week before Christmas.  Try to get it done early if you can.  Shop online to avoid the stores if possible and get it done.
  2. When in Doubt, Buy Gift Cards – If you know of a place someone shops or a site such as iTUNES or Amazon, get them a gift card for it.  Of course, you can also give cash.  Someone once told me that he always loved getting cash because it was always the right size and right color.
  3. Do Your Shopping When Everyone Else Isn’t –  This is good one if you have to get out there to the stores.  The absolute worst time is on weekends or evenings after work.  Try picking a random day like Tuesday or Thursday during the week and do your store shopping then.

Here are some other interesting stats about holiday shopping:

  • Over 27 million real Christmas trees will be sold this year.
  • Nearly half of American’s don’t buy Christmas decorations.
  • 46% lie about liking a gift they receive.
  • 47% of women want jewelry for Christmas.
  • 32% of men want gift vouchers.
  • Americans spend an average of $123 on their spouses
  • 14% will sell some of their own possessions to fund their Christmas spending.

Whatever we do, let’s not stress about it.  Try to enjoy these season and know that the gift is in the relationship you have with people.

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