Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In the Spirit of the Season...

In the spirit of the season (ie over-indulging on turkey-and-all-the-trimmings on Thanksgiving, then excessive consumerism the day after), I proffer some statistics about what your neighbors are doing about their holiday gift buying this year.

I know this doesn’t apply to you. You, after all, dear reader, are well organized, motivated and probably have your holiday gifting well under control. And, your neighbors? Not so much.

Here’s how it all stacks up, with graphs courtesy of Compete Pulse which looks at retail spending trends.

Holiday ShoppingAs of November 7th, 61% of us had already started our holiday shopping. That leaves a whopping 39% waiting for the Ultimate Markdown Sale before they hit the malls in quiet desperation two days before Christmas. (Take note, beloved husband. You’ll have lots of frantic last-minute-shoppers company at the mall this year. Yet again.)

A prideful 14% brag that they have completed more than half of their shopping. I can only surmise that these folks don’t have jobs, children, pets, or other hobbies to interfere with their devotion to the annual holiday shopping ritual. Their single-minded dedication to this gargantuan task is awe-inspiring.

Percent of Shopping Complete
Click to view larger graphic.

Only one person in America—my Practically Perfect Sister in Law—already has her packages wrapped, and prepared for shipping at the appropriate time. If she weren’t so perfect in so many ways--(her egg nog is to die for!)--I’d have to hate her. But I digress.

While the post-recession spendaholics may have started their holiday spree, this year there is far less splurging in the retail forecast.

In this year of economic upset, we’re going to be giving sensible, practical gifts. It appears that a lot of us can expect new undies under the tree this year as 70% of the shoppers say they are buying clothing and shoes for gifts. Generally, the clothing choice is tending toward warm flannel nighties, not hot flimsy negligees.

Percents of Purchased Items
to view larger graphic.

On the other hand, kids will be kids, and they want their toys. Determined not to disappoint, 70% of shoppers have toys and games on their list. Guilt is expensive. Just ask any parent.

Adult gifting is more diverse. Movies and video games separate 53% of shoppers from their cash, books 45%, and electronics 40%, and the seemingly ubiquitous gift cards count for only about 20% of gifts.

Jewelry, long a holiday gift staple, has shrunk to only 20% of buyers. A diamond may be a girl’s best friend, but in 2010, that friend may come in diminished size.

Just as what we are giving is different this year, how we are buying it is changing, too. The first week of November saw an unprecedented communal change. The ground shifted beneath your well-shod feet, and you probably didn’t even notice, but it was seismic for retail. Americans spent more money online than in stores shopping for the holidays! Amazon is still the uncontested king of online retailers with 47% of the online market, but eBay (25%) and Overstock (13%) are moving up

Holiday Shopping CoupleSo whether you shop as a patriotic gesture, or because family tradition (and the kids!) demand it…because you simply succumb to the incessant advertising…or if you sincerely think your spouse needs some new underwear, it’s time to dust off the plastic and hit the malls (cyber or brick-and-mortar) once more.

The retailers are counting on you. Our American way of life depends on you.

It’s a big job, and someone’s got to do it. Why not you?

I’ll be at home with my turkey leftovers.

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