It's looking like a frugal holiday
Even Neiman Marcus is touting cheaper gifts.
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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Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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