The Holiday shopping season is looking bleak.

November 12, 2009

The economy crisis will be affecting all aspects of holiday shopping this year.  Sales and coupons will be consumer’s biggest buys while regular priced items may collect dust on the shelves.  People have even voiced that second hand shops for close friends and family will not be out of the question to buying gifts.  Last year’s holiday decorations will be dusted off and reused before the purchase of new ones. 

People will be more opt to buying practical gifts such as clothing and necessities rather than toys and novelty items.  If people are creative that will give them even more options to make gifts this year.  Homemade calendars with pictures printed right from your computer would make a great thoughtful gift.  Joint gifts and secret Santa’s will probably be more popular this year as well.  A ConsumerReports survey on 1,000 adults said that two-thirds of the U.S. plan to spend less this year and that 6 percent are still paying of last year’s holiday debt. 

Some stores have already began trying to make sure that the smaller percent of people who will be shopping, shop at their stores by making sure they market themselves perfectly. has begun their free shipping promotion two weeks earlier this year and also has expanded the number of items available for free shipping.  Some stores who have been already affected by last year’s lack of holiday spending might not have the funds to do as much advertising as the bigger stores. 

Barry Judge the chief marketing director of Best Buy has began targeting young consumers this holiday season.  By placing ads on Twitter and Facebook.  By using these social media networks Best Buy can focus on the younger consumers and that is where they are, not looking in the newspaper.  

The key to financially effective shopping this year is to start the season with a budget and a list.  Start with your budget first, how much realistically can you spend this season.  When doing so remember mostly everyone will be cutting back this season.  Then make a list and next to each name and write the amount you want to spend on each person.  Be creative and talk with siblings about secret Santa’s so you only need to buy for one family member than all five.  Try to use cash unless you know factually you can pay your credit card off after each purchase.  Holiday shopping shouldn’t put you in debt it should be fun!

By Kate Kiselka

Should We Start Calling it Red Friday?

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and inevitably that brings around Black Friday, the retail world’s way to ramp up holiday sales by creating a day where highly sought after items are deeply discounted from the early hours of 6 a.m to 12 p.m. Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near a retail store the day after Thanksgiving because one – I just spent the previous day gorging myself on food and alcohol and the last thing I want to do is shuffle my way through crowds of sweaty people and two – I don’t get up at 6 a.m. for anything. Especially not Not even for $99 Blu-Ray players at Best Buy.

But personal feelings aside, investors and economists are making predictions left and right – will Black Friday be yet another down turn for the US economy?  This year, they should really just call it “Help us get out of the Red” Friday because for many companies, Q4 holiday sales are a major portion of their yearly revenue.  The good news is – if you are someone fortunate enough to still have your job and not feel the pinch from creditors, banks, and your boss, you are in for a treat.  Retailers have literally slashed prices on products this season – tech gear especially.  The New York Times reports, “there has already been much chatter about $99 GPS units for sale at Target, $200 Blu-ray DVD players at Circuit City, $250 netbooks at Amazon and, as always, ever larger and more affordable flat-panel televisions, like the $900 42-inch 1080p LCD models for sale at Best Buy.”

I recently went into Best Buy to scope out a new laptop I’ve been eyeing and was almost floored to see how discounted some of the top brands were.  $649 for a 15-inch Toshiba with a decent processor and 350GB of internal memory?  And only about $1k for a fully-loaded model with enough storage to fit every picture you will ever take in your life.  The sales people literally followed every person walking around the kiosks, repeatedly pointing out features and trying to close the deal and watching with disappointment as most customers walked out the door.  At first I was annoyed and kept trying to feign a Russian accent to get them to leave me alone but then I watched in fascination – this is what it has come to, shoppers struggling to justify spending any money at all, even on a great deal and sales associates trying desperately to remind them why America used to love to shop.

I’m not an expert, but my prediction is we’re in for tight holiday budgets and probably a very, very long winter. 

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter: ashleyatcaster