All Articles Tagged "holiday shopping"
The day after Christmas, media reports said that the holiday spending was low, quoting figures coming from Mastercard Advisors SpendingPulse that indicated sales had increased only .7 percent in 2012, well below expectations. Among the reasons: fiscal cliff talks, Hurricane Sandy, and nationwide sadness over the massacre in Newtown, CT. But it turns out that analysis may have been a little premature.
Upon further reflection, it looks like the figures actually exceeded expectations. In fact, 17 retailers that Thomson Reuters keeps an eye on say sales at stores open at least a year are up 4.5 percent, higher than the anticipated 3.3 percent. Discounts did the trick, The New York Times says, but it could impact the bottom line for the whole quarter. The numbers taken into account cover everything from Macy’s to Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and drugstores.
“An analysis of weekly online holiday spending totals demonstrates clearly how spending growth softened during the three most important spending weeks of the holiday season,” comScore reports, referring to the three weeks before Christmas Day. Despite Cyber Monday, online sales didn’t live up to retailer hopes.
Whether the number is up by a little or a lot, the most important thing is not to overspend. The numbers indicate that the economy remains on shaky ground. VentureBeat reports that laptop sales tanked, particularly Microsoft machines, which saw an 11 percent drop. Tablets and smartphones are to blame. Meanwhile, gas prices are staying low… so far.
Some things this year are likely going to go up in price, so if you did take advantage of those discounts, it means you’ll have a little extra money for other necessities that will cost more.
Since we are Madame Noire’s business page, of course we’ve been concentrating quite a bit on the holiday spending and gift-giving aspects of the season. However, there are a lot of people, particularly in the black church and academia, who are concerned that Christmas gifts are overshadowing the importance of the day.
“Everyone knows the true meaning of Christmas. Everyone knows what it is and everyone knows we are not doing it,” Dianne Diakite, associate professor of religion and African American studies at Emory University told The Grio.
Sources in the article point out everything one could be taking away from Christmas, including the political radicalism that serves as backdrop of Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ humble beginnings, which is similar to the “economic disadvantage” of many in the black community (and many Americans in general). Instead, it’s all about snowmen, stuff, and St. Nick.
“What is happening now is the triumphalism over the Christmas story by consumerism. The story has been hijacked,” said Adam Clark, an assistant professor of systematic theology at Xavier University.
Many people across the board think the preoccupation with gifts has taken away from the more important aspects of Christmas — whether that means a focus on the religious importance of the holiday, or simply the idea that it’s a time to be grateful for family, friends, and all that you have. If the latter is more your concern, then you probably expressed the same feeling at Thanksgiving during the Black Friday obsession.
As far as we’re concerned, giving gifts and turning the holiday into a celebration is perfectly fine. One problem is that some people do over-spend, putting themselves into a predicament for the sake of having a lot of presents under the tree. If there is an emphasis on quantity, in order to stay in budget, there should also be a reliance on stocking stuffers for future Christmases — cool things like cozy socks, specialty candy, and books that you can buy in multiples without smashing your budget to smithereens.
But more than that, the idea that “less is more” should be a financial philosophy that one follows throughout the year. The excess of the holidays is a magnified version of the excess that’s infused in our lives throughout the year. Think about it. How many pairs of shoes do you own? And how many do you really need? How many purses? How many times per year do you get a manicure? What’s stopping you from painting your own nails at home most of the time and getting a professional manicure three or four times per year? How much money would you have for other things, like vacations, new business endeavors, savings funds, or even things like home improvements and car repairs, which are necessities that sometimes get pushed back for lack of money.
As we’ve stressed a couple of times here, there’s a time for indulgence, but that time isn’t every day. One could argue it isn’t even for Christmas; that having this time with your loved ones to eat, drink, and be merry is indulgence enough.
After all the hubbub about Black Friday and holiday gift-giving, it looks like shoppers held fast to their budgets, and their money, this year. Mastercard Advisors SpendingPulse reports that holiday sales went up a meager .7 percent this year, falling far short of the anticipated three to four percent. In fact, the number is in line with the tiny growth seen at the beginning of the recession, in 2008.
CBS News attributes the spending slowdown to a series of events that put a damper on the season: Hurricane Sandy, the massacre in Newtown, CT, and fears about the fiscal cliff.
“The numbers also show how Washington’s current budget impasse is trickling down to Main Street and unsettling consumers. If Americans remain reluctant to spend, analysts say, economic growth could falter next year,” CBS News writes. The article says we’ll know even more about the state of things when companies like Macy’s release their reports next week.
Now with all of this inventory, retailers will be forced to make even deeper price cuts. That’s great for us, but not so good for the stores, manufacturers, and other companies dependent on our lust for shopping. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of all economic activity in this country.
This article by Andreesen Horowitz general partner Jeff Jordan argues that malls are in steep decline because of the growing popularity of online shopping. But the new SpendingPulse report shows that online sales grew 8.4 percent, far lower than the 15 to 18 percent growth that was seen in the year-and-a-half prior. So even online sales took a hit. Although Reuters says that one-day sales (on Christmas, no less) were up 22.4 percent, higher than the 16.4 percent in 2011.
On the bright side, there are those sales to talk about. According to Dealnews (via Business Insider) today is going to be a busy day, with people returning or exchanging gifts and others spending their recently-gifted gift cards.
According to Dealnews, more than a third of the discounts are noteworthy, and clothing is where there are lots of deals to be had. If you’re looking for a new HDTV, you can probably get a good one at a good price right now as well.
We’ve talked about staying on budget, but taking a few bucks to splurge on a little something. Shoppers far and wide have stuck with the first part. If you haven’t taken advantage of the second, here’s your chance.
Every Christmas season there is a scramble — fights in the store aisles even — as parents try to grab the latest toy for their child’s Christmas present. Other parents also struggle with finding a toy representative of their child. Well, this year the Doc McStuffins doll falls into both categories for African-American children. Not only is the toy, based on the star of this year’s breakout children’s TV show, a great gift for parents looking for Afrocentric toys, it is also this year’s best-selling doll.
“The new doll has even unseated Elmo as this year’s must-have holiday toy,” reports The Grio. The Disney series has been a TV hit since it premiered in March—it has even topped the mega popular Dora the Explorer as the top-rated cable TV show for kids, says the New York Daily News.
Created by Chris Nee, the character, Doc McStuffins, is a six-year-old African-American girl who treats sick toys. Nee reportedly developed the show for her son.
It has become popular beyond Nee’s dreams. And the product spinoff (the Doc McStuffins doll comes with her doctor’s bag and her friend Lambie) has been just as popular. Frenzied parents who are finding stores sold out of Doc McStuffins are “turning to online sites such as eBay to cop the doll. Online prices are reaching up the four times the $34.99 retail value,” reports The Grio.
Did you grab your Doc McStuffins before it sold out?
There has been much publicity this shopping season about supporting black-owned stores. It was made a little easier for shoppers with the Around the Way app that locates black-owned businesses in your area, but here’s a site you might want to keep in mind for the final hours of your gift hunt –Ujamaa Deals.
Ujamaa Market is the online store for Ujamaa Deals, which is a daily deals site and online store that features products from black-owned companies. And you get a discount as an added incentive to support them.
Ujamaa deals was founded to not only encourage consumers to shop at black-owned businesses, but on the concept that if more people frequent these businesses it would boost employment in the black community.
“My business partner, Lawrence Watkins, and I both recognized the need to make it easier for African Americans to support black-owned businesses and we didn’t think simply creating another black business directory was enough. We looked at the daily deals model (e.g. Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) and thought that would be a good approach, so that’s where we started. Since then we’ve evolved to a more traditional e-commerce site, so while we still feature deals from time to time, customers can purchase the products we feature even after the deal ends,” Tre Baker, CEO of Ujamaa, explained to us in an email.
The partners wanted to combat this staggering statistic: African Americans spend more than 90 percent of their money with businesses they don’t own.
Ujamaa is on a mission. “Black-owned companies are more likely to hire black employees,” said Baker. ”Therefore, the best way to increase black employment is not to beg or demand that other companies hire so-called ‘minorities’ like Bob Johnson suggests, it is to support our own companies so they can grow and afford to hire more people. Affirmative action style policies can only take us so far. We need to start relying on ourselves for full employment.”
Ujamaa finds black-owned businesses via their own research and through submissions. “Once we’ve decided that their products would be a good fit for us, we verify their ownership and upload their products to our site,” Baker says of the process. “There are some key product categories we want to focus on. Right now our attention is on bath and body products so we’ll eventually have the largest online selection of soaps, lotions, hair products, etc., from black-owned companies.”
According to Baker, there is an increase in consumers looking to patronize black-owned businesses as the site is seeing more and more requests. “But our biggest challenge has been finding quality black-owned businesses with great products that people want to buy and convincing them to join us,” said Baker. “It’s going to be a long process, but as long as we keep supporting other businesses before our own, we’ll always have a problem with employment and wealth inequality. I think most African Americans understand this and just need a convenient way to support black businesses. “
Have you patronized black-owned businesses this holiday season?
According to a recent study published in the UK’s Daily Mail, our lady friends across the pond think their guys should spend half a week’s wages on their Christmas present. Business Insider did a little math and determined that the average British man makes about $49,415 annually, which works out to a $475 gift. However, the ladies would really love to have designer duds under the tree, like a pair of Louboutins, which far exceeds the $475 baseline that the ladies have set.
The guys are a little more frugal. They only expect gifts that cost one-third of a woman’s weekly salary, which adds up to about $250.
ShopperTrak says holiday spending is expected to increase 2.5 percent over last year, a decrease from the projected 3.3 percent. For many, the fiscal cliff talks, the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary and in Oregon, and Hurricane Sandy put a damper on holiday shopping plans. And, the Denver Post reports, Bankrate.com says one-third of Americans have cut their spending in the last month because of the stalled fiscal cliff talks.
But putting aside all of the current events reasons for not spending a ton of money on holiday gifts, there are the personal finance reasons. The designer clothing that the polled ladies are looking for are splurge items. We asked the Double Saving Divas about the items we can splurge on at this special time of year during yesterday’s Facebook chat. “[I]f you can’t afford it you should never splurge on it. It’s not worth the headache or heartaches. If you can’t afford a vacation and you put it on credit…..once you return after having a good time you really can’t enjoy it because you will have the bills hanging over your head. Stay focused and smart!” was their response.
Chances are, the majority of the ladies polled don’t really have anyplace special to wear a pair of Louboutins (although one could argue that you can wear your hot heels to the supermarket if you love them enough). It’s been a tough year, and we all really want to indulge, but we should be choosy. Asking your significant other to spend half their paycheck on your gift is a little much. We know ladies, we spend a lot of money throughout the year to make the house cozy and stylish, to prepare good meals, to look good and smell nice. And your boyfriend or hubby should reward that; a bouquet of flowers, a new tie, or an evening out should be a part of life throughout the year.
Since it’s the holidays and we’re feeling generous, we’ll say that you should think of something decadent that you really want, drop not-so-subtle hints to your man that it’s on your wish list, and put a little money aside to help make it happen. Maybe even charge it with a plan for paying it back quickly. But make sure it’s the thing that you want most. This should be a special something that you don’t regret for one moment having spent a chunk of cash. Personally, we love to travel, and the tourist experience is worth every penny. Maybe you love to cook and a fancy kitchen gadget is the thing that, each time you use it, will be a special gift that keeps on giving.
But the most important thing is to not go crazy. We all deserve something nice every once in a while. But if it puts you in the red, it’s not nice.
If you’re looking for unique gifts, you might want to consider doing your holiday shopping at a flea market.
According to the National Flea Market Association, there are more than 1,100 flea markets in America that are visited by over 150 million customers each year. Their site includes directory links. A Google search will also bring up various flea market directories And these days most will have a website, such as Brooklyn Flea in New York.
Since shopping at a flea market can be overwhelming, especially the large ones like the Rose Bowl Flea Market in LA, which has more than 2,500 vendors, have a plan. First, check out what’s there before really shopping. “Do a quick walk-through of the whole market before purchasing. You may find that one vendor has better deals on similar items,” interior decorator and frequent flea market shopper Kristie Barnett explains to us.
Next, you need to have an idea of the value of items in order to bargain. If you’re looking for vintage items, you also have to be able to distinguish between real vintage clothing items and knockoffs or fakes. “If you are shopping for a specific item, say McCoy pottery, a quick Google search will tell you what to look for,” says Barnett.
Talk the Talk
When bargaining, don’t talk a lot or show interest. “Flea market vendors expect a little haggling and build that into their price, but don’t insult them with low-ball offers,” Barnett points out. “Ask them what their ‘best price’ is for an item, or ask them if they’d give you a discount for purchasing several items.”
“You will always get the best possible price towards the end of the sale, as vendors don’t want to pack up anymore than they have to,” she adds. And take with you only the amount of money you want to spend, this way you won´t go overboard—and you will be more aggressive when bargaining down prices.
And use your mobile phone as you would if you were shopping at the mall. “If you have a smartphone, bring it to do on the spot research. You can even show sellers what you’ve found if their pricing is not competitive,” recommends Cristin Frank, founder of The Eve of Reduction and author of the upcoming book Living Simple, Free and Happy (Betterway Home Books, March 2013).
Believe it or not the best time to visit flea markets, which tend to be outdoors, is when it’s cold, making the holidays the perfect time for a bit of flea market browsing. So bundle up and hit the tables. According to The New York Times, there may be fewer vendors on bad weather days but there will also be fewer shoppers, meaning vendors will be more willing to cut you a great deal.
To further discuss ways to save money around the holidays, or any time of year, visit the Madame Noire Business Facebook page on Wednesday at 3pm for our chat with the Double Saving Divas.
Christmas is quickly approaching and there aren’t too many days left to find that perfect gift at the perfect price. We know all to well how life can become very chaotic with trying to juggle work and family responsibilities. This can drive many of us to last-minute Christmas shopping, which can be very costly. You are more likely to purchase on impulse when shopping a week or less before Christmas. Impulse buys can lead you into a financial crisis. This is why many people decide to go on a spending hiatus for the month of January. Consider these helpful tips to take with you while shopping these final days leading up to Christmas.
Seek Out Free Gifts With Purchase Items. For example, most cologne/perfume purchases made at department stores during the holiday season will throw in a free gift, such as a tote bag or fragrance set. This gives you two gifts for the price of one. Use the free gift to give to another family member or even your child’s school teacher to help you stay within your Christmas budget.
Pay Cash. Keep your credit cards at home to help avoid overspending. Companies purposely configure and display their merchandise in a way that will cause most people to get sucked into buying more. Keep in mind, most impulse buys are made while standing in line waiting to pay for your purchases. Always remain focused and keep as much money as you can in your pocket!
“DIY” Gifts. Using your creativity and hand-make your gift is a great way to save yourself some extra cash. Try baking your favorite cake or making a fun jewelry piece. (Other ideas available here.) If you are not the most creative person, consider turning to YouTube to find tutorials that will give you step-by-step instructions on making your ideal gift.
Consider Restaurant Gift Cards. Many restaurants have special promotions on their gift card purchases this time of year. This is where you could purchase a $25 or $50 gift card for example, and the restaurant will give you an additional $15 gift card for FREE! We suggest that you give the “free” gift card as a stocking stuffer or use it yourself the next time you dine at that restaurant. Many movie theaters have these same promotions too!
Don’t forget to give gift receipts to your gift recipients when possible. This will make exchanging less difficult and will also keep the value of the price you paid despite future sales. In addition, be sure to keep your purchase receipts. You may find yourself with gifts left over that you never gave away. Don’t let the items stay in your home to collect dust. Either gift it for another special occasion or take it back to the store in exchange for something useful. While we’re on the topic, make sure you know the store’s return policy. Stores that typically don’t allow refunds will usually have a period of time that they will allow for returns and exchanges during the holiday season.
You can exhale because it won’t be long before presents are being unwrapped with holiday cheer in the air. In the meantime, don’t allow last-minute Christmas shopping to turn your finances into a debt nightmare. Maintain a budget to keep you focused on the real reason for the season. Are you a last-minute shopper? If so, do you have any strategic money-saving tips that help keep you focused on your Christmas budget?
Tai and Tarin Perry, the Double Saving Divas, are financially savvy identical twin sisters, and investment bankers turned money saving experts at . You can also connect with them on their Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.
Join us on Facebook this Wednesday at 3pm for a Facebook chat with the Double Saving Divas. We’ll cover everything from holiday shopping to overall budgeting.
Digital tools are changing the way consumers shop, and this has never been more prevalent than during the 2012 holiday shopping season. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which saw $59.1 billion in total spending, including online sales, consumers have continued to not only shop online, but also use social media, mobile devices, and more to help in their holiday purchases.
According to engagement advertising company SocialVibe, 69 percent of consumers said they will do their holiday shopping both in-store and online, while 27 percent said they will handle everything in-store and only four percent said they will only shop online.
In fact, comScore has been tracking online spending and found that between November 1 and December 7, 2012, online sales were $26.8 billion. Compare spending to previous years and it is obvious how much e-commerce is on the rise. Looking at the week ending December 2, according to comScore, online sales were up 14 percent compared to the same time frame in 2011.
This year in particular, mobile has risen as a big part of the shopping experience. In the SocialVibe data, 28 percent of shoppers plan to use their phones to make shopping lists, 36 percent will take and save photos of items they are interested in, and 27 percent said they would check prices via their mobile devices, also known as showrooming.
Using mobile phones has become de riguer for shoppers and eBay reported that non-holiday days (ie not Black Friday or Cyber Monday) aren’t always so average. Sunday, December 9 was the largest mobile shopping day for eBay and PayPal, up 133 percent compared to the biggest mobile shopping day of 2011, December 4. The two companies expect $10 billion in mobile transactions and payments overall this year.
And we can’t forget about social media. While referrals from social channels may not be as direct, consumers still turn to their friends and family for advice and ideas via social media when it comes to holiday shopping. Or the networks themselves. Facebook just unveiled Gifts across the US.
The online and mobile aspect has made it seem like things are slowing down in-store. But retailers are bullish about in-store sales as well, and as last-minute shoppers wait to make purchases too late to be shipped in time, in-store sales will continue to be a major part of holiday shopping.
ShopperTrak, which analyzes retail foot traffic, reported that the week after Thanksgiving, the week ending December 1, saw an increase in foot traffic of 3.7 percent, and sales were up 2.3 percent. That week is traditionally a bit of a down time for retailers, right after Black Friday, so this bodes well for in-store sales for the rest of the year.
Overall, looking at all the digital and in-person ways consumers are shopping these days, it’s all about the multi-channel experience. Consumers want to—and will—interact with brands through the channels they prefer and those retailers who can take advantage of that will win in the end.
“You can buy online, return it in the store, go online and check product available, or go shop for it at the store,” Mark Larson, global head of retail at KPMG, recently told Business Insider. “We are seeing retailers focusing on being able to offer all of that.”
Are you an online or in-store shopper? How have you changed your shopping habits thanks to your smartphone?
The numbers are in and this year’s Cyber Monday is the all-time online shopping champ.
Sales for the day were up 30.3 percent year-over-year with department stores leading the pack, according to the AP. “Results show Americans are getting more comfortable shopping across all screens — computers, smartphones and tablets — and retailers are capitalizing on this by improving e-commerce offerings and beefing up Cyber Monday-specific deals,” the news outlet reports. Still, online sales only account for 10 percent of total holiday sales. We’ll have to wait for the November and December numbers to get a fuller picture, but The National Retail Federation is expecting an overall increase of 4.1 percent in holiday spending this year.
There had been concerns that Cyber Monday had lost its oomph. In response to yesterday’s numbers, Jay Henderson, IBM Smarter Commerce’s strategy director tells USA Today, “The reports of the death of Cyber Monday are greatly exaggerated.” The “most-searched-for products” were Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Ugg boots. The most-searched retailers were CyberMonday.com, Target, Amazon, and Walmart. The data shows that mobile devices were used by many people to visit a retailer and make purchases and “PayPal had almost 200% more volume in mobile payments,” the paper writes. (Interestingly, Mashable reports that Twitter contributed zero to online sales on Black Friday. Or .34 percent to be exact.)
For the weekend as a whole, Ad Age says the average shopper spent $423, up from $398 last year. The magazine outlines four things that they say the weekend showed about the consumer habits. The one that we found most interesting is, “Consumers could care less about the ‘fiscal cliff.’”
“More Americans this month said the U.S. economy will improve than at any time in the past decade, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. The share of households saying the economy would get better rose to 37%, the highest since March 2002. A year ago, the measure showed a record number of consumers said it was a bad time to spend,” the magazine continues.
We’re curious about whether this optimism is something that comes with the holidays and a coming new year. The holiday season is a happy time, and New Year’s brings with it lots of hope for the year ahead. And after years of this recession, who doesn’t want to let go a little now that things seem to be slowly turning around? (Though unemployment numbers in the black community still show many still feel a strong level of economic strain.)
But an analyst that spoke with the AP, Brian Sozi, also makes an interesting point: ”Retailers have done a fine job at shifting the pool of holiday buyers to earlier in the season, but have not necessarily created demand outside of the carefully scrutinized shopping list.” So the question is whether the level of optimism and enthusiasm will be sustained for the next month? Or will shopping fever cool as people reach their budget thresholds?
This also ties in with one of the other things that Ad Age said about the holiday shopping weekend: “Retailers are nervous about the economy.”