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September 25, 2021

How will we spend this holiday season?

I guess the question now becomes: at what point is zero considered a good thing?

For many Canadians last year, the holidays sucked. They really did.

Lay-offs were being sprayed across the country, mortgage payments were falling behind and the visceral grip of the recession had just started to take hold. It wasn’t exactly holiday lights and snow ball fights.

So it was no surprise to find consumer spending dipped in the holiday months (it fell 2.4% in the U.S.) as people dealt with the certain reality that there was, well, no more certain reality.

Maybe next year we’ll splurge, the thinking went. Now’s not the right time.

Yet, is now the right time either? New numbers show consumers, indeed, may not have loosened up much from last year after all.

According to Reuters, the prognosticators at Deloitte Research are calling for 2009 holiday spending that will be flat from a year ago.

“Although there are signs that suggest the economy is nearing the end of its darkest days, many consumers remain burdened by restricted credit availability, high unemployment and foreclosures,” Deloitte’s chief economist, Carl Steidtmann, said.

“These factors combined suggest another chilly holiday season for retailers.”

So, the question remains. Considering sales were widely down for Holiday Season ’08, would even 2009 holiday sales (read: an improvement and a sign normalcy may be soon on the horizon) now be cause for celebration?

The consensus on this? For some, yeah, but for many – especially if you’re a retailer or someone looking to pick up a little extra holiday work – heck no.

Steve Giegerich of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that latter group is in for a particularly rough stretch as seasonal hires will depend largely on consumer spending forecasts.

Those looking to pick up some shifts on the side this December will need a big boost in spending in order for retailers to open up those positions.

“If retailers are not expecting as many people to shop, then they won’t bring in as many people to stock the shelves, staff the cash registers and help the cars out of the parking lot,” one source told the Post-Dispatch.

Already, prospects look bleak – 69% of respondents to a BIG research survey in July said they plan on spending less on holiday shopping this year than last.

But, in the end I guess, the way things turn out this holiday is up to us.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...