Archive for Monday, October 6, 2008

Calendar says October; store displays say it’s Christmas

SuperTarget employees Gabriel Ortiz, left, and Missy Stirling put together a Christmas display in the store at 3201 Iowa. Retailers are putting Christmas items on display earlier than usual in an effort to expand the holiday shopping season into October and increase sales.

SuperTarget employees Gabriel Ortiz, left, and Missy Stirling put together a Christmas display in the store at 3201 Iowa. Retailers are putting Christmas items on display earlier than usual in an effort to expand the holiday shopping season into October and increase sales.

October 6, 2008


Calendar says October; store displays say it's Christmas

The holiday season is quickly approaching and some economists say it will be a difficult one for shoppers. With the economy in its current state, some consumers are looking for ways to stretch dollars. Many are worried about how much they will spend on gifts. 6News reporter Chardae Davis tells us what to expect for the rest of the year. Enlarge video

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Crisp, dry autumn leaves have yet to fall in Lawrence, but holiday shopping is already under way.

Shoppers nationwide have started to purchase gifts for family and friends. Some began months ago. And they have a good reason: It will be a bumpy shopping season.

The National Retail Federation, a retail trade association, reported last month that the 2008 holiday shopping season would present challenges for shoppers and stores.

Consumers are concerned about the economy, paying for food and gasoline, and looking for dollars to stretch while retailers need to reach sales goals. The association predicted holiday sales will increase by 2.2 percent, which is half of the 10-year average sales increase of 4.4 percent. Americans are expected to spend $470.4 billion this holiday season.

Many retailers are offering sales and creating strategies to keep shoppers in stores. Wal-Mart will sell 10 popular children's toys priced at $10 and start sales this month to give shoppers more time to buy. Target stores will offer a range of gifts for under $25 and highlight sales in prime sections in stores.

"We understand this is a difficult economic environment both for our guests and for the retail industry," said Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesman.

Thomas believes it will be a competitive holiday season as usual, but retailers will have to give people a reason to shop in their stores. Target is now focused on emphasizing the "Pay Less" portion of its "Expect More. Pay Less" motto featured in advertisements.

Consumer strategies

Robert Baker, an education coordinator with Housing and Credit Counseling Inc., believes people will continue shopping for gifts, but they must create their own strategies to avoid overspending.

"For consumers, you just need to be very discriminating, and in order to do that, you have to do what anybody would do when they're budgeting, which is start early and have a plan," he said.

Fewer retailers offer layaway plans, but many do offer a "buy now, pay later" plan or encourage shoppers to open credit accounts. Baker warns consumers to be aware of the consequences of using credit to purchase gifts.

"What we usually see in the holiday season is people will charge with the hope that they can pay it off in January or February," he said. "Maybe they're expecting a Christmas bonus, or overtime at Christmas, or perhaps a tax return. This year with the economy being in a bit of a downturn, I don't think you can count on those things."

He calls the surprise debt consumers get in the mail in January the "holiday hangover."

Besides creating a budget and shopping list, Baker has three more tips for holiday shoppers: rethink a shopping plan; look at the total cost of the holiday season, including decorations, food, costs to ship gifts; and be a discriminating shopper.

Baker recommends looking for sales in stores, in advertisements and online.

Local effect

Major retailers may be concerned about sales for the holiday season, but some Lawrence business owners are not.

"I'm going to plan just like I've done in the past as far as what to expect from the customers," said Kyle Billings, owner of Fun and Games, 1601 W. 23rd St. "I'm not too worried. The holiday season is a time when even if you can't really make it work financially, you'll go ahead and (shop), and you'll pay the price come January."

Fun and Games is a costume and toy store, specializing in hard-to-find older toys and games. Billings said he is a self-proclaimed optimist and believes people will continue to shop and spend money.

"I really feel that people take things day-to-day and they'll see that things aren't as bad as they possibly could be, and they'll still go out and get gifts for the people that they want to," he said.

Some consumers have already changed their shopping plans.

"We're not buying gifts for our siblings in order to conserve our money," said Erica Savio, about what she and her husband plan to do this holiday season.

Savio hopes people are taking the economy into consideration when shopping for the holidays.

"Americans, we tend to be more concerned about possession than the future, otherwise we wouldn't have this mortgage crisis we have now."


swan_diver 9 years, 8 months ago

A lame story, in a lame community -- in a lame state, and lame nation. Shop 'till you drop, Republicans!

notajayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Wow. Democrats don't buy anything? Good to know. But it explains a lot.

chargdup 9 years, 8 months ago

Yes, yes, everybody says the same thing every year about the store displays. What a lame story.

acg 9 years, 8 months ago

I don't understand the christmas frenzy. A few years ago my fam did away with all the hoopla and other than buying for the kids (and a reasonable amount at that) and requiring that they donate most of the crap they've gotten throughout the year to charity the week before Christmas, we've taken the gift thing out of the entire equation. Christmas is so much more relaxed and enjoyable. It's supposed to be the most joyful time of the year, right? How many of us actually feel that way? Or do we feel stressed, pinched, overworked and under a lot of gift giving pressure? What's the point? Do away with it Lawrence! Don't let them convince you that you need to start buying cheap, chinese made crap in October for a holiday that's three months away! Your family member doesn't need or want that ugly sweater or unnecessary kitchen applicance. Believe me, I'm telling you the truth.

zikzak 9 years, 8 months ago

This is crazy, every year retail always starts placing Holiday items in stores during the Month of October. I have been in retail for years and it doesn't change.....ever....This should not be a surprise to anyone. Lame story indeed!

booyalab 7 years, 7 months ago

Another thing that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone...that shoppers are trying to save money. Seriously, has there ever been a holiday season where the press said, "It will be an easy year for merchants this year! Customers will spend obscene amounts of money on anything with a price tag. This year, they have no standards for making quality or economically sound decisions and huge overstuffed wallets. Slap some googly eyes on a piece of dryer lint and you're in business!"

Flap Doodle 9 years, 8 months ago

swan_diver, have you bought your ticket to Albania yet? We'll miss you when you're gone. (not)

George_Braziller 9 years, 8 months ago

Five or six years ago I suggested to my mom and sister that we not buy Christmas presents for each other but just do stocking stuffers. You reach a certain age that you really don't need anything and if you do you buy it yourself. We all agreed that we would only buy something for the two grandchildren. Guess what. I was the only one who actually followed through on what we had decided -- I felt like such a heel. My favorite day of the year is December 26th because that is as far away from Christmas as you can get.

Confrontation 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree with you, acg. My family goes overboard, and we're not even buying for any little kids. I try to suggest changes, such as purchasing gift cards, but my siblings rebel. Some of them even write lists. They want to open presents, and act surprised, even though they wrote that gift on their list. It makes the holidays a big headache.

password 9 years, 8 months ago

If anything, it is a little earlier than usual this year and although I did get a mediocre raise a few months ago, my family budget is tigher than ever before. OMG - the economy sucks and so did my raise.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 8 months ago

Nothing can dampen holiday spirit like the shopping season."Supply and demand" is applied at the parking lot, for me.

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