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It's looking like a frugal holiday

Even Neiman Marcus is touting cheaper gifts.

By Teresa Mears Oct 8, 2009 11:53AM

If we didn’t already know it’s going to be a lean holiday season, we do now. Not only is the National Retail Federal predicting less spending by consumers, even the Neiman Marcus fantasy catalog is touting more frugal choices this year -- if you consider $75 plaid stockings a bargain.


A survey commissioned by ING DIRECT found that 54 percent of American adults plan to spend $300 or more on holiday gifts, a 10% decrease from what Americans last year said they typically spend.


With shoppers looking to spend less, retailers are pushing less expensive toys for the 2009 holidays. Toys R Us lists the Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster, at $9.99, as one of the top toys of this year, though we would reject it immediately because it makes noise. Wal-Mart is expanding last year’s successful “10 for $10” program and offering more than 100 $10 toy items. We like the LEGO Bionicle Legends set. Kmart announced its Fab 15 toy list last week, too, with 15 items selling from $10.99 to $99.99. The company says those items represent the “best long-term play value.”


Was Kmart reading moms’ minds? A survey of 456 moms by the Massachusetts consulting firm Allen & Gerritsen found that, as CEO Andrew Graff put it, “The more meaningful and long-lasting they can make their product seem, the more moms are apt to buy.”


Most children, especially younger children, are quite happy with inexpensive toys and just get confused by a larger number of gifts. Your 2-year-old really might rather have a cardboard box than a talking puppet.

If you’re going to spend money on gifts, you should have been shopping and saving all year. If you haven’t already done it, now’s the time to start making your list and checking it twice, says "MoneyEnergy."


“By doing your own planning, ahead of time, you’ll be more immune to sales and marketing tactics that get you to cave in at the last minute and buy more than you need, or even what you don’t really need,” MoneyEnergy wrote.


We like the view expressed by Matt at Five Cent Nickel, who suggests that people just say no to the usual tradition of exchanging holiday gifts. But he also has some money-saving tips for those who want to participate without overspending, including participating in gift exchanges on your own terms and giving services instead of things.


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