HAPPY SHOPPING!

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It seems a shame to begin thinking of Christmas before Thanksgiving has come and gone, but that is just what I’ve done for more years now than I care to keep track of. I have to thank our American marketing strategies for this. I’m forced to believe my gift intentions for my loved ones should be upgraded from their inadequacies at every turn.
The national advertising I see on television right down to my own city’s Christmas in the Village, which wraps our town in Christmas decor from its storefronts to its streetlights, all push holiday shopping issues prematurely.
Santa officially arrived on our streets nearly a week before his Thanksgiving turkey could help fortify him for his night-long vigil a month from now.
Christmas spending was predicted to average $800 per person last year, up 5 percent from 2005, though shoppers can’t afford to be frivolous with the debt level high and the housing market in a decline. Can we keep our heads and act sensibly?
Even though most of us recognize the real world for what it is, we want to be fun and festive as the holiday approaches. We may spend some time looking for a deal before we spend our quota, but spend we will. Nearly one fourth of us will wait till the last minute, more of these men than women.
Due to this last minute trend, the department store ranks as the No. 1 shopping stop because we can go in, find lots of different things and cover a lot of people on our lists within a couple of hours.
Discount stores remain the most popular place to purchase holiday items — three-fourths of shoppers will make Christmas purchases at discount stores – and online venues continue to grow in popularity. Online heavyweights Amazon and eBay will profit from the 50 percent of holiday shoppers who will place orders on the web this Christmas.
Also growing in popularity – and acceptance – are gift cards. According the National Retail Federation, gift card sales rose last year by $6 billion to a total of nearly $25 billion.
Giving a gift card, when I was young, was considered a less-than-thoughtful present because you didn’t put time into the gift. Now, people welcome a gift card because it’s a chance for them to get something that they wanted most and pick it out it themselves.
My daughters have always been partial to Sally Brown’s wish list philosophy (Charlie’s little sister) – appeal to Santa with a single, simple request for $10s and $20s. The money tree the girls mistakenly thought hey glimpsed in our yard is more likely a lemon tree with impossible fruit. You know what they say to do if you’ve been given lemons. Instead of orange juice, I may be serving lemonade on Christmas morning.

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