The Times West Virginian

December 8, 2013

How much Christmas spending is in your plans?


Times West Virginian

— 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.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV