Story By: Kathy Posner

Presents Under Kathy Posner's Christmas Tree

According to Marilyn Vos Savant’s column in Parade Magazine, total consumer spending accounts for about 70% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This spending includes housing, transportation, food clothing, etc. In 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household expenditure was approximately $50,486.

The National Retail Federation reports that consumers spent an average of $508 on holiday gifts last year. If we play with the numbers, that means that only .74% (¾ of one percent) of the economy is represented by holiday spending.

I am confused!

If holiday spending is such an infinitesimal part of the GDP, why does the media make such a big deal about Black Friday and holiday shopping expenditures? Why are every retailer’s cash register sales closely scrutinized, and online spending analyzed ad nauseum? The numbers prove that holiday spending has virtually no impact on our economy, yet the media wants us to believe otherwise. We are being “scared” into shopping, afraid if we don’t buy that extra teddy bear for little Jimmy’s stocking, the country’s economy will collapse.

We are bombarded with useless information. For example, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey reports that with less than two weeks to go before Christmas Day, 60% of Americans have at least started their holiday shopping. Also, thirty-eight percent (38%) of adults say they have not yet started shopping. Just one-out-of-five Americans (21%) have finished their holiday shopping, while 75% still have shopping to do.

Oh, no! Seventy-five percent of people still have not done their holiday shopping!? These people are smart. The closer to Christmas that people wait, the better the bargains become. The smartest shopper does his holiday buying on January 2nd and saves the presents for the following Christmas.

The statistic that annoys me the most is the one that reports that, when they are out shopping, 72% of people prefer to see signs wishing them a “Merry Christmas” rather than ones that say "Happy Holidays." Why should it matter what a sign has printed on it? All that matters for this or for any season is that we are all healthy. Wealthy and wise wouldn’t hurt either!

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James Edstrom's Note: I agree with these numbers. I also agree with the fact that you can find better deals other times of the year from retailers. I checked out Black Friday and Cyber Monday and found very little of any kind of deal. I see better offers during the winter time. Black Friday is a farce. I remember one year I went all the way to Brooklyn to Target for a great deal on a TV and they were out, even know I was there early. I grabbed some store manager and he said they only had 6 in stock of the sale item in the first place. It's all about getting you excited for nothing. They brainwash you and you think you are getting a deal.