Among the top-selling Christmas gifts for 2013 are:
Beats by Dr. Dre headphones — retail price about $200, depending on what model you’re in the market for.
Paperwhite Kindle 3G — $120.
Furby Boom — $60.
Playstation 4 or Xbox One — about $600, depending on the bundle and games.
So, if you had all four in your shopping cart to make one or four children happy this holiday season, you’d spend about $980, before sales tax. And with that one shopping trip, you’d spend almost $200 more than the national average an American family plans to spend on Christmas presents each year.
That’s right: The average is about $801.
So put the headphones and the animated computerized doll back. After all, you have to save a little for the office Christmas gift exchange and a fruit basket for your favorite aunt. And then there’s stocking stuffers and gifts for the cousins and the nieces and nephews and your parents.
A study conducted by the American Research Group last month found that the average a family plans to spend is down 6 percent from last year’s total of $854. For the past decade, the research group has conducted this study, with the results between $800 to $1,000 except in the four years when families were hit hardest by the recession — 2008, $431; 2009, $417; 2010, $658; and 2011, $646.
Even then, $801 doesn’t seem like very much. But maybe that’s because I have three kids, and a similar study found that an average parent plans to spend $237 per child. OK, that’s a little more my language, or at least not quite as shocking.
But maybe I’m just not a smart shopper. The National Retail Federation said between online and in-store shopping, there was only 2.9 percent growth over last season. But the trade group still says that by the end of the season, there will be a 3.9 percent growth for the entire holiday shopping season.
Could be because people have budgets and are sticking to them.
An Ipsos poll during the Black Friday weekend found that 82 percent respondents stayed on budget or spent less this year, with more than half, or 58 percent, spending less than $200.
“They have gone online and done their product research, compared the prices; they know what store is carrying what item and at what price,” Sharon Banfield, executive director of media relations for shopping comparison site Pricegrabber, told Reuters. “People are still shopping, but they’re not splurging.”
When I saw that average figure, I have to say that I was a little shocked. But we wanted to know how our readers felt about that total. So we took it to the poll, the online poll we put up each week to ask our readers how they feel about the top-of-mind issues.
Last week, voters logged on to www.timeswv.com and responded to this question: “According to studies, the average American family plans to spend $801 on Christmas presents this year. How do you compare?”
And here’s what you had to say:
• Are you kidding? I’ll spend way more — 23.73 percent.
• I’ll spend about the same — 26.27 percent.
• I’ll spend much less — 50 percent.
I’m an overspender, or at least I plan to overspend. I say we ask this question again in January, when the season is over.
But this week, let’s talk about Christmas again and those who feel like a war is being waged on it. Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.
Among the top-selling Christmas gifts for 2013 are:
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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