By: Leo J. Shapiro, Erik Shapiro and Steve Yahn
Holiday spending exuberance is sooo last millennium. Five years ago, before the terrible attacks of September 2001, when our nation was younger in many ways, U.S. consumers celebrated a good old fashioned bang-up Christmas. Maybe because we have healed a little, or maybe because we need to heal a little more, this Christmas season looks to be the jolliest, spendingest, and givingest since 2000.
According to our Leo J. Shapiro & Associates December National Poll, nearly a quarter (24%) plan to spend more on Christmas this year than last, the highest December since 2003. The four in ten (40%) who expect to spend less this year than last constitute the lowest percentage in six years of Decembers.
Folks sort into three categories depending upon how they feel about holiday shopping: nearly a third — 32% say they are a seven, eight, or nine on a nine point scale, where nine is really enjoy holiday shopping and one is really do not like holiday shopping; 34% are in the middle — four, five, or six; and 29% are in the unhappy bottom — one, two, or three.
A happy shopper tends to be a spending shopper; 33% of those who rate themselves in the happiest third of shoppers also say they plan to spend more, compared with only 21% of the unhappier two-thirds, and 24% of the total.
A happier shopper tends also to be an earlier shopper; 45% of those who rate themselves in the top third of happy shoppers say they are starting to shop earlier this year than last, compared with 37% of the total.
And where 49% of the happiest third of shoppers expect to finish shopping earlier this year than last, only 39% of the total expect to finish shopping earlier.
Happy shoppers tend also to think of themselves as skilled shoppers. Where over three-quarters (76%) of the happiest shoppers also consider themselves to be the most skilled shoppers [rate themselves a seven, eight, or nine on a nine point scale, where nine means really great shopper and one means really poor shopper], only a little over half (52%) of the total rate themselves as that skilled.
And happy shoppers tend also to self-identify as a great gifters. While 67% of the happiest third of shoppers also consider themselves to be the best gift buyers [give themselves a seven, eight, or nine on a nine point scale, where nine means really great at selecting gifts and one means not good at selecting gifts] less than half — 47% of the total — think of themselves as gifted gifters.
Parenthetically, people that self-rate as poor shoppers and poor gifters tend to be less likely than the total to say they will spend more this year than last.
The most gifted gifters this season — having happily wrapped things up weeks ago — are now, if not snuggled at home in their beds, at least not out shopping.
This is the time to send out special marketing messages to the frantic folks who are not so happy about shopping and feel not so sure of their shopping and gifting skills and know only that they plan to spend money between now and the gifting season, which — also remember — tends more and more to extend past December 25.
The typical last-minute shopper is like a CEO that is seriously in need of a good support staff. Last minute holiday newspaper shopping ads should be written like efficient memos meant to aid in the decision making process of last-minute shoppers.