The Times West Virginian

December 2, 2012

Will Christmas shopping give economy jolt?


Times West Virginian

— So when it comes to Christmas shopping, are you one of those brave shoppers who hit the stores in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday and shop until you drop, marking everyone off your list?

Or are you one of the procrastinators, who wait until the last minute to shop for gifts?

Actually, for all its hype, Black Friday isn’t the biggest shopping day of the year for Christmas. The one-day record-setting shopping day is traditionally the last Saturday before Christmas. I guess the fact that it doesn’t have a catchy name, or insane deals that would have people camping out for days to get them, gives that shopping day much less publicity.

But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Finishing up all of your shopping and last-minute gifts at the local stores or the mall the weekend before Christmas? And procrastinators win this year, as that last Saturday falls on Dec. 22.

But Black Friday usually gives economists something to keep them busy crunching numbers, trying to put things into complex perspectives and trying to determine how Black Friday results fit with the national economy picture. And the results are mixed, it seems. A survey from the National Retail Federation says that 247 million people shopped Thanksgiving weekend, which is 9.2 percent higher than it was last year. The report says that $59.1 billion was spent on Black Friday deals and door-buster sales, up about 13 percent from last year.

But late last week, a similar report said that at 16 major national retailers, there was only a 1.6 percent bump in sales.

“History shows that people only have so much money to spend during the holidays,” Paul Dales, an economist for Capital Economics, told The New York Times. “And if they spend more of it on Black Friday, they’ll probably spend less of it later in the season.” So we thought we’d ask our readers their Christmas shopping plans for the 2012 season. On our weekly poll question, which can be found at www.timeswv.com, we asked “How much do you plan to spend on Christmas shopping, decorations and gifts this year?”

And here are your answers.

Ho, ho, ho! It’s going to be a very merry Christmas for everyone on my list! — 1.52 percent

I don’t plan to spend more, but it’s tough to stay on budget— 15.15 percent

I’ll probably spend about as much as I did last year — 36.36 percent

I’m making a list and checking it twice ... I can’t afford to splurge this year — 46.97 percent

Yikes. Here’s hoping for that last Saturday before Christmas for the jolt the national economy needs.

And speaking of the economy, it’s been almost four years since the start of the Great Recession. How do you feel about your own personal economic situation today compared to four years ago?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online. Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV