Jingle All the Way to the Store
Few annual time periods incite thoughts of massive spending more than "the holidays", generally perceived as the span between Halloween and New Year's Day. Even in this economic environment, the ingrained urge to spend increasing amounts of money on gifts seems to override any cautionary warnings that might pop up in our minds.
You would think that this level of momentum would have at least slowed a tiny bit as unemployment rose and national or world outlook became ever more grim. Far from it! In fact, thanks to an ever more-frenzied marketing blitz and the American nature of consumerism, we as a nation are close to returning to pre-recession spending levels. According to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper will spend $750 this year, up $9 from 2011.
Even with the current circumstances - the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the upcoming fiscal cliff, to name two - the purchase of presents remains an enormous segment of annual spending in households and companies alike. Lest you think this all entails trips to the mall and box stores, statistics show that e-commerce holiday sales figures have doubled since 2005 alone.
Building off the traditional Black Friday sales event is Cyber Monday, similar in theme but featuring only online retailers rather than physical stores or malls. This is where many online businesses get a piece of the revenue, and an ever-increasing number are participating. In fact, Cyber Monday's rising popularity has more than a few traditional stores worried, as simply clicking a few keys on a computer in the living room often has more appeal than standing in lines for hours, often in cold or inclement weather, only to fight off angry hordes of shoppers.
Consider retail shops that not only appeal to the rising masses of mobile shoppers, but have developed a mobile-specific site to enhance the selection and checkout process. Buying gifts while standing in line at the airport or while waiting for your meal to arrive at a restaurant provides an astounding convenience factor.
The point, then, is clear. Whether shopping in person or online, the impact of ever-rising holiday spending does not appear to diminish at any point in the foreseeable future. Neither storm nor unemployment nor the death of the Hostess brand shall keep us from our purchases! Just watch out for all the other shoppers.