Last Minute Shopping

With Christmas less than a week away, retailers and shoppers alike are scrambling to the finish line.

There are many reasons why consumers put off Christmas shopping until the last minute, in hope that prices will drop dramatically as the days before Christmas tick down. But this year has been different; the National Retail Federation on Monday said its “turning out to be a holiday season like no other”.

Certainly, Thanksgiving late shopping in the season is one plausible explanation. We all know that Christmas falls on December 25 each year, no matter what, but we somehow can’t all embrace the holiday and its trimmings until after we get through the one before it. We complain about Christmas decorations on sale before Halloween and Thanksgiving now getting hijacked by pre-Black Friday sales, but few of us are diligent enough to really take advantage of all of that.

When Thanksgiving in late November robs us of an extra weekend of shopping before Christmas we find ourselves pressed. Heck some of us do not even have all out holiday decorations up yet.

But another part of why this year is like no other is that no again, off again economy. The stock market is mostly of fire and people are starting to get hired again. But there’s a big chunk of the population that is unemployed, under employed, or leaving the workforce because they’re feeling just plain hopeless about finding a job.

 

The retail federation, for example, reports that a relatively high 42% of shoppers used their debit cards, the closest thing to cold, hard cash, to purchase gifts this year. Why does that matter? Because study shows that people spend more on credit cards than they do when they are pulling dollars out of their wallets. When the cash is gone, its gone. Credit seemingly never runs out. Most people without jobs or with stained budgets aren’t likely to be running up big credit-card bills.

And as sales results trickle in, its clean that people aren’t spending, at least not yet, to the degree that retailers had hoped. That means there’s unwanted inventory unmoved. Its why you  see stores like Toys R Us panning to keep the lights on for 87 unremitting hours beginning Saturday at stores nationwide.

Theses are a few examples of how the economy, retailers and consumers alike are facing off this Holiday season!