A closer look at Christmas Spending

We may not have officially entered Christmas season yet, but Christmas shopping season is about to kick into high gear.

We may not have officially entered Christmas season yet, we have a few more days until December, but Christmas shopping season is about to kick into high gear.

Golden’s Christmas ShopFest is taking place this weekend, which includes a Craft Fair at the Rec Plex, and shopping deals at retail locations all around town.

All kinds of statistics are being thrown around this time of year about shopping habits – where people are spending their money and how much.

Most of the numbers and predictions I have heard are quite optimistic. One source says that online retail spending (in the U.S.) is predicted to reach $61 billion for November and December, which represents a 16 per cent increase.

A retail network is predicting a less dramatic increase for offline spending at three per cent, but that is still an increase. If you couple that with the increase online, overall spending has jumped this year.

And Forbes Magazine predicted early on that 2014 overall will be stronger for the retail market, both on and offline.

I am less interested in where people are spending their money, and a little more curious about how much.

The American Research Group polled 1,100 American adults about how much they “planned” to spend this holiday season. (Of course their actual spending may be more or less).

They found that gift spending plans actually surpass pre-recession levels this year, with the average adult planning to spend $861. That is on gifts alone, so not including any holiday travel, decorations, or cooking. It also found that those who have already started their Christmas shopping (as of Nov. 21), plan on spending less overall than those who leave their shopping until later.

Spending hit a low in 2009 at $417, and hit a high in 2001 at $1,052.

Is it just me, or does that seem a tad excessive?

These are American statistics, so they don’t necessarily say anything about Canadian habits. But I’d be surprised if our spending was much different.

Christmas spending is not a bad thing. It is certainly good for our economy, and is a part of the Christmas tradition of generosity. As long as it doesn’t detract from the more important aspects of the holiday season, like spending time with friends and family.

I don’t mean to sound like Dr. Seuss, but “Maybe Christmas … doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”