Can it be possible the poor economic outlook and the overwhelming trend toward personal budget tightening will accomplish what I thought nigh impossible – what my wife and I have battled with year in, year out for the past decade? Will this be triumphant holiday season when my in-laws finally acknowledge that we don’t need the towering mountain of well-intentioned but largely useless heap of Christmas presents they drop-ship to our family each year? Will we finally escape the endless parade of awkward and begrudging “thank-you”s and the purposefully intense “you REALLY shouldn’t have”s after each unwanted gift?
By God, I think we might.
This is the year that we convinced our in-laws that instead of the usual cavalcade of gifts, a single gift of a Home Depot gift card for various home repair and improvement projects would be most appreciated.
Further, I’ll take this opportunity to claim the title of trend-setter in this regard, as many of our friends and acquaintances have rallied around this pragmatic approach to the impending holiday. In an informal poll of friends and acquaintances, we have found that a majority of them are forgoing large gift purchases for each other and instead favoring home improvement items. Rather than extravagant and excessive electronics or ostentatious ornamentation, the couples we know are electing instead to give each other the gift of new carpeting. Or a replacement set of tires. Or a much-needed furnace repair.
The latest HD TVs or Blu-Ray disc players are being passed up in favor of more practical car repairs and vacuum cleaners. This year, it seems (at least to those near and dear to me) that I WANT is taking a back seat to I NEED.
And advertisers seem to know it.
As Marie mentions in her Cyber Monday post, retailers are coming across as desperate. Further, according this article about 2008 Holiday Spending, the latest Gallup polls report that 46% of American consumers say they will be spending less this year and the projected per-person holiday spending budget is a mere $616 – down $250 from previous years and the lowest figure in the 10 year history of tracking this measurement.
So in the face of a trend toward practical purchases and reduced overall spending, retailers may find themselves competing against each other for a small piece of an even smaller pie. Will that mean outlandish offers and deep discounts? Or a stick-to-our-guns attitude and a substantially reduced bottom line? A mere two weeks will tell the tale.
In the meantime, in lieu of romantic gifts for each other, my wife and I will be shopping for a new mattress to replace our worn bed, while visions of a buyers’ market dance in our heads.