If our family is any kind of example, I can understand why the retailers are weeping about the holiday season just past: Dawn and I spent less than we have in many years on gifts. Yes, our financial situation is unstable and we just bought a new house so we had to be careful whether we wanted to or not, but the fact is we spent about exactly what we felt like spending. We bought fewer things, and we spent less overall, but – forgive the cliche – I think we all appreciated what we got more than usual.
Year after year the gifts pile up to the ceiling, the money flows like water, and it gets all jumbled up together; there is a feeling of satiation like you’ve overeaten – another holiday tradition – almost a feeling of debauchery. Not so this year: we got nice things, gave nice things, certainly no child was left behind, but it felt more efficient, more compact, more manageable, and each individual gift seemed a little more important.
CBS News has the ugly details:
- The already disappointing holiday shopping season turned out to be even more dismal than anyone anticipated.
The nation’s retailers released weaker than expected sales figures Thursday, confirming that the just-ended season was the worst in decades. Even usually strong retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kohls Corp. and Target Corp. suffered amid economic uncertainty, a short season and a lack of must-have items.
Department stores and many mall-based apparel stores, particularly Talbots Inc. and AnnTaylor Stores Corp., also languished.
….Niemira and other analysts don’t believe consumer spending will improve in the short-term.
“I think in the near term, there will be a continuation of a struggle in the retail industry,” said Niemira, noting that the possibility of war in Iraq and the nation’s shaky economy will remain obstacles this year.