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What we spend on Christmas

By TRAVIS HANDY

travis@southwesttimes.com

The more prudent of shoppers have already begun gearing up for Christmas and getting their shopping done. Some people brave the Black Friday madness, while others stay at home and take advantage of Cyber Monday deals. Research is showing that shoppers are returning to a pre-recession budget for their holiday shopping.

According to the 27th annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group Inc. (ARG), shoppers around the country say they are prepared to spend “an average of $845 for gifts this holiday season, up from $646 last year.” We took to the streets to see what some of Pulaski’s shoppers are doing to keep the purse strings tight this Christmas.

Sandra Hicks, who owns and manages Second Time Around on Main Street, estimates that she usually spends about $500 on Christmas gifts for her small family.

“This year, of course, is not going to be as great,” said Hicks. “I was looking at my receipts the other night and it’s around $350.”

Hicks said her spending is less this year because of concerns about the economy.

“You’ve got to pinch the pennies because you see what’s going on around you,” said Hicks, pointing out talks of impending layoffs at Volvo Trucks North America. She explained how so much of the local economy depends on industry and how well they are doing, something she has concerns about as a storeowner. She said she knows a lot of other people reigning in their spending.

Hicks takes advantage of Black Friday deals, but also goes down to the wire occasionally and does some last-minute shopping.

“I think instead of the big items, we’ve all turned to the smaller things, like the flea market kind of things … getting things that are more back to the old days, something that’s special to that person instead of something costly,” she said.

Tammy Taylor of Dublin says her family consists of about six relatives. She said the economy has made an impact on how much she will spend this year.

“(My budget) has drastically gone down from years past. That’s why I try to budget out about $500. About $50-$75 per person, and maybe less,” she said. Her strategy is to stretch the dollar as far as possible, buying more gifts but paying less for each item.

The down side for Taylor is not being able to give her family what they would like to have.

“Not being able to give them what they want, exactly… not having that extra dollar or the extra income to give them what they want. That has saddened me,” said Taylor.

Taylor hits up the Black Friday sales, as well as the last-minute sales, looking for bargains to help fill her gift list.

Chris Henley said she buys year round in order to save money.

“If I see something I think (the grandchildren) will like, I will buy it and put it away,” said Henley. “One year I made big bags and stuffed them with yard sale items, and they loved it. I mean nice gifts, but (not as expensive).”

Henley operates under the idea that it’s the thought that counts and not the price tag. “Yard sales help!” she said.

Other people discussed the way they plan for gift giving, having their family members make wish lists to stick to, and foregoing the more costly items in favor of more, less expensive, items.

The consensus around Pulaski is to spend somewhere between $350 and $500, bringing this area in about $300 to $500 dollars less than the American Research Group’s published average.

Among other findings, ARG’s 2012 survey revealed that 40 percent of shoppers planned to make gift purchases from catalogs and 45 percent planned to make purchases online. Eighteen percent of shoppers indicated they would pay full price for particular items, while 54 percent said they would wait for a sale and another 28 percent said the price they would pay depends on the item.

The American Research Group has been conducting national surveys of consumers since 1985. Their survey sampled 1,100 people in telephone interviews among a random sample of all adults age 18 and older living in telephone-equipped households in the continental United States.

 

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