Santa better have a pretty big sleigh this year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that holiday sales for 2011 will increase 2.8% to a whopping $452.9 billion. That’s a generous $3,566.14 per household in the US (127 million households). If we assume about 2.8 people per household, that’s $1,273.62 spent for every man, woman, and child in the US. Retailers will hire an additional 500,000 seasonal employees this year. And, I am not just talking about Christmas. The 61 days of the official holiday shopping season also include Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.
Looking at this from another angle, if the top 20 people in Forbe’s Richest Americans (Gates, Buffet, the Waltons, etc.) were willing to pony up their vast fortunes to pick up everybody’s Christmas bill, it would just about cover it. But, we’re not going to ask them to do it, nor should we expect them to. A little self-restraint may be in order.
To put it in perspective, if we could siphon (pardon the pun) off $10 billion from our holiday spending, a mere 2.2 % of the total, we could provide clean water and sanitation for half the world’s population lacking such necessities for an entire year. Ten billion dollars is less than half of what we spend a year on mineral water in the US. It makes you think that dad doesn’t really need another ugly tie or mom a new housecoat. Money is a poor master but a good servant. Happy holidays.
Dr. Jim RobertsDr. Roberts is a leading researcher on consumer behavior and the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. His book SHINY OBJECTS is available on Amazon.
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