Being a lifelong student of human behavior, especially when it comes to money, I thought I would blog about the varied types of holiday shoppers that I’ve witnessed over the years. And I’ve got to believe that there are some undeniable personality traits inherent in these shopping tendencies.
First, let’s start with the type who shuns holiday shopping altogether. Those folks often use the staunch principle that we shouldn’t let commercialism take over the true meaning of the holiday and therefore they are opting out of shopping. Interestingly when it’s a bachelor, we cut them some slack saying, “oh well, what can you expect”? (The same pass applies to wedding gifts). Yet, if a woman takes that approach, we are less easy going about it. So, are they cheap or simply bah humbugs? Or maybe they really can’t afford the excess money and are embarrassed to admit it? This one I haven’t really figured out! I’ve got to say; sometimes I am jealous of them!
Then of course you have the shoppers whom I would hold out as the most responsible of holiday shoppers. They write out a detailed list with a budget for each item. They think in advance of some ideas for each person on the list, so they don’t wonder aimlessly through the stores thinking of ideas. They spread the increased expenses over several months so it doesn’t all hit at once. They’re methodical and practical with shopping…they’re my heroes! These are the kind of people that make financial planners proud.
Then you have those who shop all year…like my sister! She called me earlier this week and asked me if I preferred gold or silver. I told her actually I wear both and prefer gold, but silver goes with more things I already own. However, I said to my sister, “I thought we decided on no more holiday gifts?” She said we did, but I found something for your birthday…which is in August next year!! My sister is the queen of shopping all year long. And I know plenty of other people just like that. Behind the excuses of, “But I found such a great deal” or “I saw this item and it was just perfect for you”. I think at the heart of it, they just love to shop and look for justifications. I’m fine with it as long as I’m the lucky recipient!
On the other end of the spectrum you have the last minute shoppers. Some of them even wait to shop until the night before the holiday. One memorable holiday, my husband clearly did that very thing. It was the morning of the holiday and we sat down to open our gifts. Some of the gifts were a bit strange. First of all in several cases, there were 3 of the same gift, one for each of us. In addition, most of the gifts were things we really didn’t need; like 3 fleece blankets. I finally asked my husband, where and when did he shop? He humbly admitted that the night before he had walked the aisles of Walmart, filling his basket with items. When I mentioned that our linen closet was overflowing with blankets, he said, “But they were only $1!” that was 3 years ago and that $1 fleece blanket is still in the trunk of my car wrapped in its original package. So, what’s the personality trait behind this shopping approach? I say just a basic procrastinator!
What about those folks who hit the stores in the few days following the holidays? The game plan is to clean up on the post-holiday sales! Especially the holiday sale items like wrapping paper and such. I love the concept of buying whatever at 75%+ off, but who can really remember an entire year later that they bought those items? I have to admit that I did do it one year, and several years later found those gifts in the top secret place I hid them, having totally forgotten about them. So, North Fulton Community Charities received those items!
Holiday shopping says a lot about who we are as people, and our relationship to money. It simply magnifies our general tendencies towards shopping and spending. This year I’m especially impressed with the masses of people that turned out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Record sales increases were reported over last year. Traffic nightmares still abound around the malls. From what I hear, Americans are still digging out of the recession, and in fear of elevated taxes due to the fiscal cliff, but it doesn’t seem to be impacting the holiday spending spree.
God Bless America! It takes more than a recession and a fiscal cliff to make us stop the holiday spending madness. But I’m not complaining, because it’s good for the stock market!
May you have a beautiful holiday and may your gifts be meaningful and the company of your friends and loved ones even more memorable.