Early Shirley or Last Minute Lucy
Why do some people start Christmas shopping in July, while others wait until December 24th? Here’s why, and how to better understand the phenomenon.
Some People See It as Inevitable
There many types of Christmas shoppers. For some, waiting until the last minute is inevitable. They don’t have the money to shop for Christmas gifts until the last minute. This is how it is for many people who live paycheck-to-paycheck. When you don’t have the money to shop, you don’t.
Some research done on national savings rates might help explain this phenomenon. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the national savings rate has been steadily declining since the 1960s, with negative savings rates being recorded during the Great Depression and again between 2008 and 2010.
The 50-year average savings rate is 9.8 percent, but Americans only saved an average of 4.8 percent of disposable income in 2014 – this includes savings from personal retirement accounts.
So, it’s no wonder many people feel the pinch around the holidays. Many simply don’t have the money or savings to shop beforehand.
Some People Are Procrastinators
A lot of people procrastinate when it comes to Christmas shopping – at least that’s how it is in the UK. People like Sam Martin, a computer programmer from Belfast, waits until Christmas Eve.
Why? He prefers to get it over with quickly, and says the pressure forces him to shop more efficiently.
For some, holding of your purchases is an opportunity to perhaps take advantage of good deals. Why buy early when many companies offer last-minute deals on stocking stuffers, gadgets, or everyday essentials that double as great gifts (think undershirts and socks)?
Some people claim that the wait gives them a better shopping experience. Alf Vanotti, a project manager from London, says that waiting until Christmas Eve means there’s fewer people to compete with in the mall.
Some People Are Planners
For many people, waiting until the last minute adds stress – makes sense. By planning out gift purchases in advance, planners can take their time and not worry about missing out on product availability. Instead of just walking into a store unprepared, planners are much more likely to go online and visit companies like Bed Bath & Beyond and lay out a plan of action.
Shelley Hughes, a typist in Merseyside, says that she likes putting Christmas music on in September and buying everything that same month. She writes all her cards, and wraps up everything.
Planners also tend to budget well and plan out the expenses of Christmas far in advance. Nothing takes them by surprise and they tend not to make impulse purchases. Plus, the benefit of starting early is that planners can be more methodical in their buys. They aren’t competing with anyone else for Christmas gifts, and they can score great deals, even without holiday-centric deals, like Black Friday.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of being in a good financial spot on January 1. Christmas tends to be an expensive holiday, so by getting those expenses out of the way early, planners benefits by being able to start the New Year in a great financial position, rather than having to pay off Christmas debt.
Betty Gill has worked in a retail environment for many years and has seen all sorts of different shoppers. She enjoys sharing her observations and ideas online and is a regular write for a number of lifestyle and shopping websites.
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