According to the American Research Group, Inc., we will be spending half what we spent last year on Christmas. The amount we're willing to spend on the magic of the season this year is $431. In 2007, the number was $859.
My friend Frank works for a high end clothing chain here in Austin. He told me yesterday that Christmas sales in his store are down 70% from last year. As much as I hate to see a friend's personal economy in peril...I have to say I'm happy to know we're thinking about what we're doing with our credit cards and our savings accounts.
Because twice as much money spent does not really say "I Love You" twice as much. Does it?
In fact, what we're involved in at Christmastime is apparently something right out of Grimm (as in the fairy tale). Some smart university researchers have followed a handful of Christmas shoppers around for 7 years. What they discovered is a pattern of motivation that reads a bit like Jack and the Beanstalk...small dreamer (us) with magic seeds (our Christmas lists) pulls off a giant (retail world) tricking feat of daring (shopping) to bring home prizes of great value (the gifts under the tree).
Unless, of course, a villain prevails...which typically (according to research, not me) is a husband or father or death of a loved one.
Or the collapse of a greedy economy?
Stop right here for a moment, my friends, and ponder this: How are you really feeling about the condition of your Christmas economy this year? Hero or villain?
I say it's a good year to spend less, sit more, and enjoy the view from the bottom of the beanstalk.
And we all lived happily ever after...