It’s that time of year again. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is approaching and therefore it must be time to start Christmas shopping. Such appears to be the train of thought of the retail industry, who could barely wait for people to change out of their Halloween costumes and finish their candy before they started bombarding the public with Christmas decorations and specials.
Walmart, for example, is pushing forward by a month its largest sale on expensive electronics to the early days of November instead of waiting until after Thanksgiving. Other retailers are also pushing “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after Thanksgiving, to drive online sales as the holiday season deepens.
Christmas, of course, is a much beloved holiday. That being said, the increasing efforts by the retail industry to commercialize Christmas has certainly created a dichotomy between the picture-perfect image of Christmas that they are selling, and the stressful, gift-oriented one they have created. Christmas has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with consumers spending 59.1 billion dollars on Black Friday alone last year, and the average spending per person rising yearly.
This intense marketing push creates added pressure for people to spend significant amounts of money on Christmas gifts. This new pressure can create additional stress and worry for people who may be struggling financially. One survey of moms found that many of them – around half – began to feel anxiety about affording Christmas presents as early as July.
The current state of the economy isn’t especially comforting, and parents are worried about being able to spend what they feel is an adequate amount of money on presents for their kids. Behind the surface of the sparkly holiday season are some ugly statistics. Not shockingly, alcohol consumption rates rise during the holiday season (probably all that family togetherness), and divorce and break-up rates spike as well.
There is some good news, however. While unconfirmed by statistics, some people suggest that volunteer rates rise as well during the holidays. This could simply be a matter of perception, but it’s certainly a nice idea.
As the holiday season approaches, it may be helpful to keep in mind that it is the thought that counts, not the retailer's bottom line.Featured image via Jim/Wikimedia Commons.