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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Wow – and that doesn’t even include what we spend on travel during the holidays?
It makes you wonder if maybe we are living a little beyond our means…
It just really goes to show how much money we, as Americans, spend on things that we don’t even need.
Those statistics are definitely eye opening. It kind of goes along with the argument that Christmas has become a holiday revolving around material things, rather than on the celebration of Christ’s birth.
I think that the real meaning of these holidays has been totally transformed. We are giving more importance to less important things (materials), and less importance to more important things (relation, people).
I agree with the previous comments, this is eye-opening and frankly kind of upsetting. It seems the holidays are becoming more focused on material possessions than the celebration with family and friends.
I agree with the above comments. I also feel that so much money is spent that people do not have in order to provide a ‘good Christmas.” It’s so sad, it shouldn’t be about material items.
I agree with Sarah. It’s sad how commercialized and materialistic Christmas has become. In one aspect, Christmas is about giving, which is obviously good, but as you said, do they really need that tie or housecoat? Maybe we need a little wake up call about the true nature of selfless giving, and instead of being caught up in satisfying friends and family, we should all consider those less fortunate. I know my aunt and uncle volunteer at soup kitchens and others with “Caring and Sharing”
on holidays and its people like that that are really getting lasting fulfillment from giving–instead of spending hours at hobby lobby searching for decorations, or throwing elbows at the mall to get that last video game, these people are investing in the lives of those who need it most.
Wow, I knew how much we spent on Christmas, but it’s interesting to see the impact that money could have on others who have so much less than we do.
I knew that holiday spending in America was astronomical, however, I did not realize the impact that we could have on the world if we cut only 2% of our budgets. I am curious to know if all Americans knew this information if we would be willing to make this small sacrifice and donate our assets to help the rest of the world.
I do not think all spending on loved ones around this time of year is unnecessary, but I think we do need to spend in moderation and focus on specific needs instead of pure wants that fuel our greedy side.
Great article. It is upsetting to hear how material-oriented we have become, especially during the Christmas season. I hope frivolus spending does not make us forget the true meaning behind the season.