Retailers, consumers and prices
“Why THANK you! I just LOVE this knitted cell-phone cover!”
If you’re spending the holidays baking cookies and brushing up on your needlepoint and macrame, you’re not alone. Some 14 percent of Americans are opting for home-made gifts this year, according to a holiday shopping poll from Consumer Reports.
But if canning okra isn’t quite your thing, you may be altering your spending habits in other ways, the poll found. Spending limits on gifts are now de rigueur, and some 37 percent of families have set them as a way to cut down on unnecessary purchases in tight financial times.
Another 6 percent are saying bah-humbug and not exchanging gifts at all.
The poll, in which 1000 telephone interviews were conducted between Dec 4 and Dec 7, pointed to a bit of good news for retailers, who have had to rely on huge discounts in order to attract cash-strapped shoppers to their stores. Among those polled, 44 percent of shoppers had not yet even begun their holiday shopping.
“Consumers have ample opportunity to score a bargain,” said Tod Marks, who edits the Consumer Reports’ Tightwad Tod blog. “Budgets are tight and shoppers are waiting up to the last minute to make sure they’ve explored every opportunity to find a good deal.”
Not surprisingly, the retailers seeing the most holiday traffic — 76 percent — were the big-box merchandisers such as Wal-Mart or Target. Department stores were seeing 54 percent of traffic, with online retailers following at 48 percent.
The poll showed shoppers choosing cash as their No 1 payment option, while those using credit said they planned to charge up $682 on average, down from $723 last year.